By Port Authority Media Relations Staff
PATH made its debut in 1908, and it’s been a sturdy and reliable source of transportation for countless riders in New York and New Jersey ever since. As with any 108-year-old, however, time takes a toll, and the system isn’t quite what it used to be.
So PATH is turning to new technology better suited for 21st century ridership needs. Starting Aug. 6 and running through Dec. 19, the 33rd Street line from Hoboken along Sixth Avenue will be closing on weekends to enable installation of critical signal and communications upgrades. PATH stations at Christopher Street, Ninth Street, 14th Street, 23rd Street and 33rd Street will be closed when the project is active.
“This is an important moment for PATH, transitioning from a damaged system that’s outlived its usefulness to one that will provide enormous benefits for the riding public,” said PATH Director/General Manager Mike Marino, noting that extensive salt water and residual damage from Superstorm Sandy in 2012 corroded signals, switches and other tunnel equipment and metal surfaces.
In the short run, the modernization program is bound to inconvenience some weekend PATH commuters, although affected riders will have alternate travel options to help navigate the closures. In the long run, it will bring PATH service up to speed, making the system more efficient, safer and convenient as ridership numbers continue to rise.
When the project is completed, the old “fixed block system” that tracked train location within a finite system block – an outdated process increasingly subject to costly repairs and maintenance — will be replaced by the technologically advanced Communications Based Train Control.
CBTC, operating with track sensors and computers, pinpoints the location of trains more accurately, allowing them to travel closer together while enhancing passenger safety and providing better tracking capabilities. Trains will run more frequently, leading to shorter wait times and laying the groundwork for increased passenger capacity. Real-time information will be available in PATH stations.
In addition, the project features installation of Positive Train Control (PTC), a federally mandated upgrade that provides automatic override capability to control train speed and movements as necessary. It’s designed to prevent collisions or derailments. PTC must be installed across the entire PATH system by the end of 2018 as part of the federal directive.
“The new signal system is very important for PATH in these two aspects,” said Kevin Lejda, assistant superintendent in PATH’s Transportation Division. “PTC and CBTC will reduce human or mechanical errors and provide our customers with an additional layer of safety and reliability.”
Service will be suspended on the 33rd Street lines starting on Saturdays at 12:10 a.m. to 5 a.m. the following Mondays. For riders wondering how to get around the disruptions, PATH is restoring weekend service between Hoboken and the World Trade Center for the first time since just after 9/11, and free shuttle bus service will be available for riders from WTC to West 29th Street. For more information on the closings and alternate travel options, go to http://www.panynj.gov/PATH.