Tuesday, December 18, 2012

PATH again links Hoboken and Manhattan

Written by  William C. Vantuono
After nearly two months of extensive round-the-clock repair efforts following Hurricane Sandy, PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) rapid transit trains are resuming service between Hoboken Terminal in New Jersey and the 33rd Street station in Manhattan. Trains were scheduled to start rolling at 5:00 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 19, and will operate until 10 p.m. seven days a week.

“Weekday service between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. will be back at all 13 PATH stations and on three of PATH’s four regular lines: Journal Square to 33rd Street, Hoboken to 33rd Street, and Newark (N.J.) to the World Trade Center,” PATH said. “The return of service to all 13 stations comes less than eight weeks after Hurricane Sandy decimated the entire PATH system, flooding the tunnels with as much as eight feet of water, and destroying critical signal and switching systems.”

Return of limited 24-hour PATH service is expected by year-end, in time for New Year’s Eve, when thousands of people use the system to attend celebrations in Times Square.

Initial passenger traffic early Wednesday morning at PATH's Hoboken Station was lighter than normal, with seats generally being filled in each PATH car but few if any riders needing to stand. PATH officials at the station's turnstiles sanctioned free access to the system on the first day of restored Hoboken service. Local television media interviewed returning riders, one of whom described service resumption as "an early Christmas present."

PATH said that resumption of direct service on its fourth line, between Hoboken and the World Trade Center, remains several weeks away pending ongoing work and replacement of badly damaged signal equipment. That far exceeds early initial (though tentative) estimates of service resumption made immediately after Hurricane Sandy struck the Northeast.

To expedite repairs to its Hoboken facility, PATH suspended Newark to 33rd Street weekend service for a two-week stretch. Doing this “allowed workers long uninterrupted stretches to make repairs, allowing the speedier reopening of the Hoboken PATH station,” the agency said. “Each weekend closure has meant cutting five or more days off our recovery timeline to restore both Hoboken and 24-hour service. Since the storm, PATH workers and contractors have pumped more than 10 million gallons of water from system tunnels (which were constructed prior to 1910), and fixed and replaced numerous switches and signaling equipment.”