Paying For Gateway

Discussion related to New Jersey Transit rail and light rail operations.

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Paying For Gateway

Postby EuroStar » Thu Dec 14, 2017 4:46 pm

So NJT plans to put a surcharge on fares into Penn in order to pay its share of the Gateway Tunnel.
A Wednesday letter from NJ Transit to the federal Department of Transportation outlines the plan, under which city rail commuters would pay a 90 cent per-trip surcharge to fund the tunnel project starting in 2020.

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

My prediction is that this is not going to go well as they plan to put the surcharge only on rail passengers. The rail fares into Penn already exceed the bus fares into the Bus Terminal. At which point will substitution effects become big enough to incentivize people to switch modes? A lot of poorer people already take the bus because of the cheaper fares.
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Re: Paying For Gateway

Postby andrewjw » Fri Dec 15, 2017 2:44 pm

I also expect:
Increased ridership on NWK PATH trains
Increased ridership on HOB NJT + ferries/PATH
I wonder if they will see a decline in ridership worth rerouting some Midtown Direct trains to Hoboken (not as many as last summer). That would also assist Amtrak repair work by decreasing rush hour crowding and lead to a higher QOS for those people who remain on NYP trains due to decrease in red signals at the NYP end of the river
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Re: Paying For Gateway

Postby time » Sat Dec 16, 2017 9:25 am

How the nation pays for passenger rail infrastructure needs to change. The advocates for "let the users pay for it" forget that non-users receive a benefit in the form of reduced congestion on the highways, and competitive pressure on airfare and airport usage. Airports in the Northeast are not able to be significantly expanded without astronomical cost. Highways are also not significantly expandable. There will be some efficiencies made to highway travel in the form of automation, but with population increases and additional trips due to the convenience of not having to actually drive, I feel we'll soon again be bumper-to-bumper.

All that said, it should be a national, federal, priority to build large-scale infrastructure projects which bridge states. The "50% federal, the rest divided by states" formula causes massive, crippling, delays to project starts--if they start at all. The reason we have a federal government is to take on things at a national level, since states usually "bicker" about fair share of cost when they have to take it on alone.

The interstate highway system. That was a massive, expensive effort, paid for and managed by the federal government. No one today looks back at that effort and says ... "wow, what a colossal waste of money." I'll go out on a limb and say that 40 years from now, no one will ever go back and look at the Gateway project and say ... "wow, what a bunch of pork."

Gateway is vital to the nation's economy. We must be able to effiencetly and effectively move people from point A to point B throughout the nation. It's a big nation. There are so many constraints at the regional level, the only possible way to move the masses regionally is through rail infrastructure. Additional airport capacity and additional highway capacity are not sustainable, and would cost billions (trillions?) more than a comparable investment in the per-passenger cost of mobility via rail infrastructure.

All that said, I don't think it's fair to create a usage tax for rail infrastructure. That's a slippery slope. Eventually you'll end up with a ticket that reflects 20% operational cost, and 80% capital cost - at an unaffordable cost to the average citizen. The regional benefits of reduced highway and airport usage will be subsidized by users of the rail network, and that's not fair.

I think the formula should look more like: Federal 95%, State 5%. Essentially, the state portion would show partnership with the federal government, and allow the state to have a say in project management. The revenue would be raised through general federal and state taxes, not usage taxes.
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Re: Paying For Gateway

Postby JamesRR » Sat Dec 16, 2017 11:21 am

People will complain, but ultimately, they'll pay.

It says a lot about how mismanaged the state's finances are, though, that this is even being proposed. Commuters are suffering due to the lack of proper investment and upkeep of both the national and commuter railroads, and the solution's cost is being directly passed on to those very commuters.
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