How to Solve the NY-NJ Transportation Crisis

A new RPA report outlines the actions the region must take to fix the trans-Hudson transit bottleneck. These recommendations are the first in a series of ideas proposed in RPA’s fourth regional plan, A Region Transformed, to be released on November 30, 2017.

The Problem

Penn Station, the Port Authority Bus Terminal and the Hudson River rail tunnels suffer frequent service failures, serve far more people than they were designed to handle and need major repairs to prevent a catastrophe.

At the same time, travel demand between New Jersey and New York is expected to increase substantially, with work trips to New York City projected to increase by as much as 148,000, or 38%, by 2040.

The Solution 

Piecemeal solutions have been proposed to address individual problems, but each has been planned and studied in isolation of the others. As outlined in the RPA study, Crossing the Hudson: How to Increase Transit Capacity and Improve Commutes, a much better outcome could be achieved through a series of complementary investments that address the problems of the system as a whole.

Immediately Begin Construction on Gateway Project
Building two new rail tunnels to Penn Station would ease the current crisis and avert a transportation disaster if and when the almost 110-year-old current tunnels fail.
VIDEO: How Crumbling Hudson River Rail Tunnels Are Putting the Region at Risk




Build A Second Bus Terminal in the Basement of the Javits Center
This bus terminal would consolidate all intercity buses, connect to the 7 line subway station and Hudson Yards and ease overcrowding at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, which could be renovated to operate for the next 20 to 30 years.




Construct a New and Expanded Penn Station Complex
The new Penn Station complex would include Moynihan Station and a “Penn South” expansion to create a unified station from 30th St. to 33rd St., while moving Madison Square Garden to make way for a superior passenger experience. Enhancements would include increasing station capacity and amenities, reducing congestion at the platform level and enabling through-running regional rail.



Extend the Gateway Project East to Sunnyside, Queens
Instead of terminating at a new Penn South station at Seventh Avenue as currently proposed, Gateway would continue to Sunnyside Yards in Queens through two new East River tunnels to expand capacity. A new station at Third Avenue and 31st Street would connect passengers directly to Manhattan’s east side.




These actions can be phased in, with each step building on the previous investment. This plan would provide enough capacity for the next 20 to 30 years, when trans-Hudson demand will once again begin to surpass combined rail and bus capacity and the existing PABT will have surpassed its useful life. At that point, another phase can add more capacity, either by rebuilding the bus terminal or planning for the fifth and sixth tunnels under the Hudson River.

Both sides of the Hudson River benefit from their proximity to each other — to the extraordinary jobs and vitality of New York City and the workforce and communities in New Jersey. We are cheating the clock by relying on connections that are more than a hundred years old. To prosper in this century, we need to make bold plans once again. Here is the way — now all we need is the will to do it.


These proposals are recommendations of RPA’s fourth regional plan, A Region Transformed. The plan will be released in full on November 30, 2017 at a half-day conference at the New School. Stay tuned over the coming months for more recommendations. About the Plan >>


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  1. 1

    Is there any consideration about reducing capital costs? RPA has admitted in the past that the NYC region can’t build these tunneling processes for reasonable amounts, with NYC paying 3x-10x more compared to other high-labor cost, high-regulatory cities in Europe or Asia. Any plan that doesn’t include this isn’t a realistic solution.

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