However are fare hikes value paying for brand spanking new rail tunnels?


It may seem to many that the rail commute from New Jersey into Manhattan has been a nightmare ever since the first train crossed under the Hudson River during rush hour more than a century ago.

In the first decade of this century, however, construction was about to begin on new rail tunnels into New York. The project was called Access to the Region’s Core, or ARC for short.

But Gov. Chris Christie killed that plan in 2010 after federal projections of cost overruns said the $9 billion project could balloon to $14.7 billion. Even though New Jersey would only pay a share of the cost, Christie objected to the “cost that was being asked to be borne by the taxpayers of the state of New Jersey.”

In the meantime, the commute got worse and Superstorm Sandy hammered home the reality that the century-old tunnels that carry more than 300,000 commuters in to New York daily were too old to carry that load.

So a new plan was drawn up that is projected to cost twice as much. New Jersey’s share is expected to come to about $12.9 billion. New York will contribute $1.75 billion, Port Authority is committed for $2.7 billion, and the federal government would pay roughly $17 to $18 billion.

New Jersey will raise its share from commuters by charging them an extra 90 cents for every trip into New York starting in 2020. 

The surcharge would jump to $1.70 in 2028, and to $2.20 in 2038.

New York won’t hit up its riders for the money, instead using a Federal Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement loan that New York would repay over 35 years.

The Port Authority share comes from a 10-year capital plan adopted earlier this year.

There’s no doubt new tunnels are needed. Just ask any regular commuter who’s suffered through over-crowding and inevitable delays. 

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