Off the Path Again

29 10 2007


By Derek Beres

According to the NJ Transite website, the PATH system accompanied 66.9 million riders in 2006, and are in the midst of a $3.1 billion dollar renovation that will continue through 2011. As a daily PATH rider for nearly a decade now, I really have to wonder where this money has gone, or is going. As much as I love the convenience and, for the most part, dependability of the system, there are many flaws not being addressed, and the above photo is but one example.

Roughly six weeks ago there appeared a few strands of police tape and a single garbage can blocking either side of the Grove St entrance. The handrails on both sides had been lagging a bit, and it seemed that they were finally going in for reparations. A few days later, and … the above. Two two-by-fours on either side to “hold” up the collapsing stairwell. When I first saw it, I thought it had to be a joke. After a few days, however, I guessed that it was a short, temporary solution that would be fixed soon. Now, six weeks later, and still this is what remains. This is all after, by the way, constructing a new PATH entrance at the corner of Columbus and Marin to accompany the slowly growing 50 Columbus building, an entrance that remains barely used and an obvious addition to appease potential renters who would, heaven forbid, have to walk another half-block. They receive a brand new entrance; the regular commuters get scrap wood.

This catering to an economically higher community is nothing new to the PATH design. Take their weekend schedule, for one. For years the PATH has stopped at Hoboken en route to Manhattan, as well as on the return, sometimes at a stand-still for ten minutes before continuing to Jersey City. Hoboken is roughly one square mile and has a population of 40,000. Jersey City is over twelve times that in geography, and has a population approaching a quarter-million. With an estimated 50,000 new condos and apartments being constructed in the city by 2020, there is an estimated growth of another hundred thousand people. Yet, every Saturday and Sunday, and after night after 11 pm, Jersey City commuters have to stop in Hoboken for the convenience of what usually amounts to a comparative handful of riders.

On an even less humane level, the total number of garbage cans in the four Jersey City PATH stops: zero. I’ve eyed at least two in Hoboken, and there may be more. The result of this is are constantly cluttered and filthy PATH stops in Jersey City. Why, exactly, there would be no garbage cans is beyond me. I’ve never seen a subway stop in Manhattan without one, and yet the PATH refuses to put them in.

It’s sad that the NJ Transit system boasts of the PATH as their busiest transportation line when they treat riders in this manner. Thing is, I’m certain things will soon change. The reason it will change, however, will be because the economic demographic is going to jump so drastically in Jersey City that when people with a bit of cash start complaining, things will start appearing. It’s an old story and not at all surprising. Those of us who’ve used this system for years will briefly benefit from those complaints, until we too are forced to float away like the scrap wood that now supports us.



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