The local economy is
bouncing back. This is one interpretation of the increased
ridership at the Exchange Place PATH station in Jersey
City since it reopened last June. This one station, which
connects to Lower Manhattan and is the hub for the city's
financial district, is often the barometer of economic
trends in terms of commuter flow.
It is now up to 11,200
riders on a typical weekday. Before the Sept. 11, 2001
terrorist attacks, the PATH station served 15,000 on a
daily basis. After reopening last June 30 following $160
million in repairs and improvements, the Exchange Place
station got off slowly by handling an average of 5,600
riders on weekdays.
Gov. James E. McGreevey
referred to the station's increased ridership as an
indicator of economic growth and the need to continue to
invest in the region's transportation systems, an opinion
this newspaper supports.
This newspaper predicts
the ridership will continue to grow. During pre-9/11 days,
the PATH was already operating at above capacity. The Port
Authority of New York and New Jersey was looking to
modernize its signal system to tweak it enough to handle
the ever growing demand for rail mass transit.
While ferry routes help
the congestion at the river crossings, more is needed.
Rather than talk about building a freight rail tunnel from
Brooklyn to Jersey City that would probably carry garbage
as well as freight, the Port Authority should build
another PATH tube and more stations. The ridership demand
will only grow as development continues in an improving
economy. The time to think about this is several years