The New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area has the largest metropolitan economy in the nation, accounting for about 10% of national GDP. Yet this economy is rapidly outgrowing its three commuter rail systems, which were designed for a different era when their only job was to get people in and out of Manhattan at rush hour.
The result is a system that limits our region’s potential for economic growth, and makes it harder for individuals living beyond the reach of frequent train service to tap into economic potential. A modern rail network greatly expand access to jobs and housing, bring transit to underserved communities, dramatically reduce travel times and make this a healthier region for everyone.
Global cities like Paris, Tokyo and London provide a powerful example for how high-quality regional rail networks can unlock economic potential and expand opportunity.
In our newest report, “Trans Regional Express: Transforming the New York Region’s Commuter Rail System Into an Integrated Regional Rail Network” , RPA lays out a vision for how we can expand commuter rail in the NY-NJ-CT tri-state area to create an integrated regional rail system. Doing so will connect more people to jobs, affordable housing, and allow for inclusive, sustainable growth for our region.
What would T-REX mean for our region?
More access — by 2040, an expanded, integrated regional rail network would serve up to an additional one million people. It would provide direct service to parts of the region currently not well-served by transit, and increase off-peak service, enabling more options for residents and businesses in places like Bridgeport, Hicksville, and Patterson.
More time (and time is money) — A regional rail system would save an abundance of time for millions of commuters. In much of the region there would be consistent service: every 15 minutes throughout the day and every 10 minutes or less during traditional peak periods. The value of all of this time saved? RPA’s conservative estimates show that it would add up to $3.4 billion per year.
Better service — The T-REX proposal calls for more frequent, and less expensive service in the densest areas of the region. Currently, there are still a number of areas in New York City that are far away from any subways and have poor transit alternatives even though they might live or work right next to an existing commuter rail station. These populations would see dramatic commute time savings, for example a resident of southeast Queen commuting to Manhattan could save over 1.5 hours a day!
A healthier region — A regional rail system would also improve air quality and reduce congestion. The region’s streets and highways experience severe congestion on a daily basis, which cause major delays, a loss of economic productivity and contributes to higher levels of pollution. With the T-REX, there would be a shift of almost half a million trips each day from road to rail.
T-REX is a sweeping vision that would transform mobility in the region. The report also suggests measures to fund this vision, address institutional barriers, and implement the capital improvements in a series of phases over the next several decades.