Mayor Bloomberg Explores Extending Subway to New Jersey

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration is seriously exploring extending the No. 7 subway line to New Jersey. The project would connect New York transit riders to New Jersey at about half the price of the ARC tunnel, and would ease congestion and reduce carbon emmissions. But it might not offer the same time-saving benefits as the ARC, and is far from being a reality.

Earlier this fall, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie killled the ARC tunnel twice, but it still won't die.   

At the time, it almost seemed as though Mayor Michael Bloomberg was indifferent to the project's death. "We are not a party to this," the Mayor said at a City Hall news conference as the ARC tunnel was flatlining. "This is a Port Authority Project. They have their own financial problems and they can afford some things and not others."

But around the same time, the Department of City Planning was coming up with the idea to extend the No. 7 to New Jersey, an idea that was quickly embraced by Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert Steel and the Hudson Yards Development Corporation, according to a city official familiar with the process.  Unlike the ARC tunnel, an extension of the No. 7 would start at 11th Avenue and go west, avoiding the costly proposition of boring a tunnel under Manhattan to Herald Square. 

The line would also instantly take riders to Grand Central station, a holy grail of the ARC project. But it would not necessarily have the same capacity as the ARC, because trains wouldn't be arriving on several Manhattan platforms, as commuter trains do, but not subways. And New Jersey Transit riders, who were projected to save an average of 45 minutes on their commute times to Manhattan if the ARC Tunnel was completed, would have to switch trains, potentially eliminating much of the time savings. 

A City Hall official stressed the project was a "very, very early exploration," and has not been discussed with the MTA, Governor-Elect Andrew Cuomo, or Chris Christie. The MTA isn't commenting. "We haven't had a chance to study the proposal," said MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation also declined comment, and many experts believe that the city wouldn't be automatically entitled to the $3 billion Governor Christie is returning to the federal government in the wake of the ARC cancelation, and would instead have to go through a competitive application to get the money. 

But U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has expressed dismay at the death of the ARC, saying he was "extremely disappointed" with Governor Christie's decision, and he has been a big proponent of public transit.

"Extending the No. 7 line to New Jersey could address many of the region's transportation capacity issues at a fraction of the original tunnel's cost," said Andrew Brent, a City Hall spokesperson.

Transit advocate Gene Russianoff said the extension of the No. 7 project had some "appeal -- but where's the money going to come from?"

Indeed, extension of the No. 7 line has not been funded by the MTA, but has been paid for by the City. Former Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff intially pushed for it when it was part of his plan to build a stadium and convention center on the west side of Manhattan for the 2012 Olympics and the Jets Football team.

Neysa Pranger, a spokeswoman for the Regional Plan Association, also expressed qualified support for bringing the No. 7 to New Jersey, noting the project accomplishes "two of the three goals of the ARC project" -- a direct line to Grand Central and increased transit capacity from New York to New Jersey, but not the goal of a one-seat ride from New Jersey to Manhattan. A one-seat ride is a big lure for riders to switch from their cars to public transit.



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Comments [14]

Rick Ortiz from manhattan

The tunnel driller is already down there so use it !!!!!!!!

break on through to the other side...

Nov. 17 2010 01:25 PM
Ian Lyn from Brooklyn

Do you know how many people will leave their cars home, espically during the holidays if the #7 ran to Seacacus? NJ would benefit from NY's Spending dollars at the Malls, and NYers will save money on gas, tolls and parking. I for one would LOVE to stay on one train to get to NJ. Lets do it.

Nov. 17 2010 12:43 PM
Diane of Park Slope, BKLYN from Brooklyn, NY

New York City subway riders have already suffered through fare increases, service reductions, and more crowded and DIRTIER trains. The 7 Line stops in areas of Queens not served by other lines. Extending the 7 into New Jersey will increase crowds, waits, and delays for those New York City riders who depend on the subway daily, particularly in underserved ares of Queens. I say if Christie is too cheap to fund a rail tunnel to help ease congestion, waits, etc. for primarily NJ commuters, please don't fix the problem on the backs of those millions of New York city subway riders who have already suffered sky-rocketing fares, and, for some lines, plummeting service, in many that's already overtaxed for the areas it was designed to serve.

Nov. 17 2010 11:44 AM
YBR from Passaic, NJ

Years ago, someone asked me the fastest way to Passaic from Javits. I said, #7 to Secaucus, 15 minutes....
Oh, but that may take 20 years.
Or maybe not.
"Let's get it done!"

Nov. 17 2010 11:41 AM
Susan from Manhattan

One of the Mayor's ideas that actually makes sense (besides banning smoking indoors)! But i agree with the comment that NY should not have to pick up the tab for the entire project. Besides tapping federal funds, maybe the NJ'ans should have to pay a surcharge to travel across the river pm on the 7. re: the added time to their commute -- have you ever been on NJT when they single-track the trains? they are ALWAYS late.

Nov. 17 2010 10:30 AM
Bill C. from Metuchen, NJ

The idea is exciting and shows great 'out-of-the-box' and forward thinking by the master planners and leaders in NYC - unlike the arrogant, confrontational, and narrow-minded one here in NJ state. Come on Gov - redeem yourself, get NJ on board with this plan and chip in; help build the subway station at Secaucus, increase parking capacity there, and collaborate with NYC/NYS to get that 3 billion USD back into the region!

Nov. 17 2010 10:29 AM
Mark Stollar from New York

New Jerseyans don't want to pay for a tunnel to make their commutes into NYC easier and faster, so why should New Yorkers pay to extend the 7 line for their benefit. Most of the people who would take the 7 into NJ are New Jerseyans coming into NY, not New Yorkers looking to go to NJ, so let NJ pick up the tab of this extension. Christie doesn't deserve a free ride while our subway fares keep going up.

Nov. 17 2010 10:19 AM
Bob from Staten Island

Gee Jersey will get a subway stop before Staten Island. Just show how we are still the forgotten boro.

Nov. 17 2010 10:09 AM
Kevin from Brooklyn

This is a good idea, but will this become like the mythical Second Avenue line?

Nov. 17 2010 10:07 AM
antonio from park slope

Wow is Miguelito trying to make up for Cathy Black. I have to say it's working with this idea. Maybe some chocolates and flowers could help too!
Seriously if they add that Hell's Kitchen stop to this plan that was axed in the 7's extension, I would be VERY impressed. That's what we need; Ideas that are out of the box!!!

Nov. 17 2010 09:43 AM
elka from NJ

Brilliant idea. Expand the 7 to Secaucus, then start attaching lite rail and other systems there, which run parallel with the highways such as route 3. Keep extending so that people in NJ don't have to use the car all of the time.The ARC was a very bad idea. This idea is really great.

Nov. 17 2010 08:51 AM
Aardvark from Glen Head, NY

This is an impressive idea indeed. I am glad to see there are people thinking outside the box. I thought the ARC project was an overpriced boondoggle but realize it or something like it is needed. The idea to extend the #7 is brilliant. I hope I am still around to be able to transfer from the LIRR to a #7 Express in Woodside and ride all the way to New Jersey. I would like to do it once "because I can". Of course the one-way MTA fare will probably be around $10 by then.

Nov. 17 2010 08:26 AM
Suzanne from Montclair, NJ

Getting on the subway from NJ is brilliant. I hope this or something like it happens in my lifetime.

Nov. 17 2010 07:41 AM
Corey from New Brunswick

'"two of the three goals of the ARC project" -- a direct line to Grand Central and increased transit capacity from New York to New Jersey, but not the goal of a one-seat ride from New Jersey to Manhattan. A one-seat ride is a big lure for riders to switch from their cars to public transit.'
Currently, anyone going to the East Side from nj via rail doesn't have a one seat ride so having to transfer from secaucus or hoboken to the #7 would still be a net gain

Nov. 16 2010 11:47 PM

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