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 PATH must grow to aid region's growth

 Friday, July 02, 2004 Jersey Journal Editorial

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 past.

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