“They did everything we asked,” said Ward E Councilman Candice Osbourne, speaking about the upcoming PATH suspension and upgrades. “If you remember when they closed the World Trade Center PATH in 2014 with eight days notice, there was no communication plan, people at Exchange Place had no transfer options or public transportation at all.
“I had several asks in 2014 (when the WTC was temporarily shut down.) They ended up doing some of them after kicking and screaming. They offered free light rail tickets for people to get to Pavonia Newport, which was especially important for people who were on fixed income or had mobility concerns. They did the ferry, which I had to arrange with the help from the county (and their subsidy). But for many people who lived in Newark or Harrison and worked downtown (in Manhattan), especially if they were making moderate to minimum wage, there was no cost neutral option. They’d have to get off the PATH and then pay to get on the ferry.
“When we talked about it at the time, we discussed the future (which is now) signal upgrades for the 33rd street train. We made it clear that this was a much bigger deal than the WTC line because there are four access points. We can’t expect people to ride the [NYC] subways if that’s not what they’re used to doing. Also that brings us back to the added cost.
“So the current plan is to use a shuttle from WTC to comparable locations where passengers would be normally getting off the PATH. The PATH does plan to follow through on this during this upgrade period. Also they gave us better notice – two months is better than eight days.”
When asked if their timeline is realistic, Osbourne shrugs.
“That’s beyond my scope,” she says, “I couldn’t know. My understanding is that they’re going to have to do it again in 2017 if they don’t completely finish this year, which they don’t expect to.
“Its inconvenient. Everyone acknowledges that. But it’s important. It’s important for safety reasons, and it’s important for increasing capacity and the frequency of trains. I know is that they’re doing the work they said they were going to do, and they’re advertising it.
“It’s part of the plan and they’re doing it. The reality is, the work is happening. And it’s a good thing. Increasing capacity and safety needs to be done. We have meetings with them next week and we will further discuss the plans but from right now, everything lines up to what they’ve always told us.”