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    Future PATH: Info, ads, more doors 

Wednesday, January 23, 2008 By AMY SARA CLARK JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
Jersey Journal HARRISON - PATH commuters can expect to see new cars that will have video screens, design improvements that make sitting and standing more comfortable, and video screens in stations that will eventually tell passengers what time each train will leave. They can also expect to see new video screens on the platforms and upper levels of stations that will eventually let commuters know exactly when the next train is coming and on which track.

The PATH train cars of the near future were unveiled yesterday at a news conference at the company's maintenance facility in Harrison. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey plans to beginadding the new cars by the end of the year, beginning with the Newark-World Trade Center line. The goal is to add an average of 15 new cars a month, said Susan Bass Levin, the Port Authority's first deputy executive director.

The video programming, which will include news, weather, sports programming and ads, will be silent with captions along the bottom or other kinds of text. NBC has promised the Port Authority $1.5 million over seven years to provide the content. Some commuters said they won't mind the televisions, even though they will include ads. "I think that's great. It kind of breaks the monotony of the trip, even though it's short," said C.J. Kim, a Jersey City attorney who lives in Manhattan. Others were skeptical. "I pay for the trip, and then I have to pay for advertisements?" said Klaus Wiegner, a Jersey City accountant who lives in Manhattan. Shelley Roberts, who works in public relations in Newark and lives in Brooklyn, agreed. "I'm bombarded all day long by stimuli, and I cherish this time," she said. "I find it very invasive and intrusive."

But riders polled were uniformly enthusiastic about the potential for platform video screens to let them know when the next train will leave. "That's what I love about London," said Roberts. "At least (there) I have a choice as to what's going on, so if I need to make a choice, I can make it based on how soon it looks like a train might be coming." But that ability is still awhile off because it is tied to an overhaul of PATH's antiquated signal system, said spokesman Marc La Vorgna. A timetable has not been set, but it is a top priority, he said.

Other improvements include seats with better lumbar support, more vertical polls, allowing shorter riders to hang on more comfortably and ceilings a few inches higher for taller riders. All of the new cars will have three doors per side. In addition, cars will include technology that returns energy to the train when it brakes, better lighting, air conditioning and heating, pre-recorded station announcements, a better intercom system and the capacity for passengers to communicate with the crew.

AMY SARA CLARK can be reached at aclark@jjournal.com

http://www.nj.com/news/jjournal/index.ssf?/base/news-2/1201072227248500.xml&coll=3

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