Monday, August 28, 2017

Councilman Bhalla seeks upgrades to mass transit and infrastructure

Official release:

Councilman Bhalla Calls for Upgrading and Increasing Hoboken’s Mass Transit Options and Infrastructure
                              Says “Improvements are Needed to Keep up with Demand”
 Councilman Ravi Bhalla, candidate for Mayor of Hoboken, today called for upgrading the City’s public transportation infrastructure and increasing service on bus, rail and ferry lines in order to meet the growing demand.  Hoboken has the highest percentage of residents using public transportation to get to work in the entire United States.

Ravi Bhalla said, “Our residents deserve to have reliable, reasonably priced transportation options that can also help to reduce traffic and improve our quality of life.  As  Mayor, I will work tirelessly to advocate for the necessary investments in our mass transportation infrastructure.”
Bhalla called on New Jersey Transit to add additional north/south 126 bus routes west of Clinton Street, and add buses on the current 126 routes exclusively for uptown Hoboken.  He also urged New Jersey Transit to modernize their bus stops in Hoboken with digitally signalized arrival times, similar to what is standard in other parts of the country and world.
Other proposals Bhalla advanced are providing a new train station in Northern Hoboken as part of the $13 billion dollar Hudson Tunnel project, increasing PATH train service during rush hour Bhalla’s mass transit infrastructure platform also calls for public and private subsidies in ferry service uptown and downtown with the goal of a ferry ticket being in line with the $2.75 ticket price for PATH trains service, a goal that has already been achieve in inter-borough New York City routes.
Bhalla’s plan for upgrading mass transit infrastructure and increasing service is part of a series of detailed blueprints he will release during the course of the campaign, giving voters a clear picture of what he plans to do as Mayor.  This plan follows his release of a comprehensive indoor recreational facilities plan designed to increase recreational opportunities for families and children.
Read the whole mass transit infrastructure plan below:
Bhalla Plan to Upgrade Hoboken’s Mass Transit Infrastructure
The single most important challenge facing Hoboken in the years to come is bringing our aged infrastructure to the 21st Century.  Today, I write to set forth a series of policy proposals on the subject of upgrading Hoboken’s mass transit infrastructure.
Upgrading & Expanding the NJ Transit 126 Lines
While we enjoy one of the best waterfronts in the world in Hoboken, in many ways the future of Hoboken looks west – west of Willow Avenue.  Our two 126 bus lines are packed to the brim on a daily basis during rush hour and lines are getting longer, especially at the uptown Hoboken stops. While an overhaul of the Port Authority Bus terminal may provide us some relief decades from now, Hoboken deserves better in the short term, and NJ Transit must reexamine their bus services throughout the State to reallocate its services to those areas, such as Hoboken, that are most stressed.  We must ensure that mass transit infrastructure can accommodate much of the growth we are seeing in the western neighborhoods of Hoboken.  Therefore, today I am urging New Jersey Transit to add additional north/south 126 bus routes west of Clinton Street, 
and dedicating additional buses on the current 126 routes exclusively for uptown Hoboken.  In addition, I urge New Jersey Transit to modernize their bus stops in Hoboken with digitally signalized arrival times, similar to what is standard in other parts of the country and world.
New Train Station in the North End
Another critical investment that I am urging NJ Transit to make is a commitment to a new train station in the North End Rehabilitation Area of Hoboken.  Last week, I testified at the public hearing held by NJ Transit concerning the $13 billion Hudson Tunnel Project, to build a new tunnel connecting midtown-Manhattan to the Secaucus Junction Terminal.  My testimony stressed the need for a Hoboken train station stop to be included in the project.  The project envisions constructing a new train tunnel under the Hoboken/Weehawken border, but goes directly to Secaucus and does not have a stop in Hoboken.  In the years to come, the North End is likely to develop into a thriving new neighborhood focused on commercial development, retail and restaurants, creating a correlating need for public transit options for residents and commuters.  With this in mind, the infrastructure for an actual train station connecting to that tunnel should be created in a manner so the yet-to-be-developed North End will have the means to integrate this critical transit option into any future redevelopment in this area of Hoboken. 
In proposing a new train station in the North End, we are not reinventing the wheel.  This proposal is very similar to what was done recently with the extension of the Number 7 train in New York City to the Hudson Yards at 34th Street to include a possible additional stop at 41st Street and 10th Avenue in the future.  There, planners invested in the necessary infrastructure so as not to preclude the construction of a new station in the future.  Here too, as the borings required for an air ventilator shaft in Hoboken/Weehawken are already in the plans of the Hudson Tunnel Project, forward-thinking urban planning should include mass transit infrastructure investment to keep open the option of adding a train stop in the North End of Hoboken.
PATH Service
Additionally, as many of you know, in 2015 the Port Authority reduced PATH service in Hoboken during rush hour and shifted those PATH trains to other locations. As a part of federally mandated rail upgrades, which would allow more trains to be in operation, the Port Authority will soon have the capability to add more trains to its overall service. I believe it is critical that the Port Authority prioritize Hoboken by dedicating additional PATH service to our PATH station during rush hour, and I will be fighting tooth and nail for this investment for Hoboken, whether those investments are from developers or mass transit agencies.  
Ferry Service
Lastly, while the ferry is a pleasant option for crossing the Hudson River, it is far too expensive, particularly the uptown ferry.    New York City has worked in certain areas to lower the cost of a ferry ride to $2.75, the same price as a subway ride.  As Mayor, one of my priorities will be to work with state and federal officials, New York Waterways and the private sector, to identify opportunities to subsidize the cost of a ferry ride from Hoboken to New York City to make it a more affordable transit option.  If New Jersey’s mass transit public agencies cannot provide sufficient rail service in urban municipalities, there is no reason public-private partnerships should not be considered to provide required subsidies for residents to cross the Hudson River by ferry at the same price.  If New York can do it, so can we.