MTA to Spend Millions on Port Jervis Line Repair

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Flooding and other hurricane damage on the Port Jervis train line. (Photo by NY MTA.)

(New York, NY - WNYC) The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority is getting ready to invest millions of dollars to repair the Port Jervis train line on the western side of the Hudson River. The authority is paying an engineering firm $500,000 to figure out how to repair damage from Tropical Storm Irene.

That raises the question: why is the authority prepared to spend so much to bring back a relatively lightly used transit option?

About 2,300 riders take the Port Jervis train through Orange County on an average weekday. That's just a small portion of the thousands of riders who used to take the 37 bus lines in New York City that were cut last summer to save money. The B69 and B71 bus lines alone, which served Park Slope and Downtown Brooklyn, carried 2,300 weekday passengers.

MTA spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said the authority has no choice but to make the repairs to the Port Jervis line--and to run 55 buses among eight stations, seven days a week, until the line is fixed. She couldn't put a price tag on the substitute bus service but said it was attracting about half the number of passengers who rode the  train before the hurricane.

The storm washed out 14 miles of track, and Anders said there are no alternative transit options like there are in the five boroughs. "Compared to Brooklyn, Orange County's choices are very limited," she said.

Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign said he's conflicted: Port Jervis's ridership is low, but he agrees Metro North is the only way for many commuters to get to Manhattan. "It's the only means of transport for these people," he said.

Anders she said the engineering firm will come up with a price tag for repairing the track by the end of the month.