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For PATH, new cars will be pulling into the station by 2008
P.A. clears $499M to replace oldest U.S. fleet and upgrade facilities

 Friday, April 01, 2005 BY RUDY LARINI Star-Ledger Staff
 The oldest passenger rail fleet in the United States is to be replaced under a half-billion-dollar contract the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey authorized yesterday for the purchase of new cars for its PATH train system.

The $499 million expenditure for 340 new cars is the largest single investment the Port Authority has made in PATH since the agency acquired the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad in 1962.

"This is truly a historic day for the Port Authority and for the thousands of people in New York and New Jersey who rely on the region's mass transit system each day to get to their destinations," Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia said.

PATH carries 200,000 passengers a day between Hudson County and Manhattan and had a total ridership of 57.7 million last year.

The contract, awarded to Kawasaki Rail Car Inc., to design and build the new cars is part of an $809 million PATH upgrade authorized by the Port Authority in September 2003. The program included signal improvements, car maintenance equipment and renovations at PATH's rail car maintenance facility in Harrison.

During the past three years, the Port Authority has also invested $566 million to rebuild a temporary World Trade Center PATH station and the Exchange Place station in Jersey City and renovate the rail tunnels underneath the Hudson River after 9/11.

The Port Authority expects to break ground this summer on a $2 billion transportation hub at the World Trade Center site.

"These initiatives continue to advance the goals of the 10-year strategic plan that the board approved last December by enhancing the mobility of people throughout the region," Coscia said.

The Port Authority expects to have the first of the new rail cars in service by late 2008 and the entire fleet replaced by 2011.

More than a quarter of the contract -- $128 million -- is to be spent in the metropolitan area, mainly for assembly of the new rail cars at a Kawasaki plant in Yonkers, N.Y.

Coscia said Kawasaki's $499 million bid was not necessarily the lowest, but the "lowest price of the most responsible bidder." Legal considerations prevented him from disclosing information about the other bidders, he said.

"On contracts where there's an engineering component and a delivery component, price is not the only factor," Coscia said.

The purchase will be financed from the agency's capital budget and there are no plans for a fare or toll increase, Coscia said. PATH's $1.50 fare has been in place since March 2001.

One of the primary advantages of the new cars, Coscia said, is that they will average 160,000 hours in operation before having to be taken out of service for maintenance, compared with an industry average of only about 100,000 hours.

"What will mean the most is the reliability of the cars, the infrequency of being taken out of service," he said. "Down time of the old fleet is greater than the down time of the new fleet."

The new PATH cars will have improved lighting, air conditioning and heating, cantilevered seats with room underneath for passengers to store items, pre-recorded station announcements; better signs and three sets of doors on each side to allow for faster loading and unloading. The existing cars have two sets of doors on each side.

The new cars will replace the existing fleet, which has an average age of 33 years and is the oldest in the U.S.

Service on the old Hudson & Manhattan Railroad was opened by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908. The Port Authority acquired the bankrupt 14-mile rail line in 1962, renaming it the Port Authority Trans Hudson, or PATH.

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