Extending the 7 line into NJ among study options to ease commuting crunch

Transit officials will explore extending the 7 line into New Jersey as part of a study to create a new cross-Hudson rail link, a Port Authority official said Tuesday.

Rick Cotton, the Port Authority’s executive director, told attendees at a Crain’s breakfast forum in midtown that the study will help serve a growing number of commuters coming into New York from the other side of the Hudson River over a 20-year time frame.

“The challenge is, looking forward, to increase the capacity of commuters to get to and from residences in New Jersey,” Cotton said. “It could be the extension of the 7 line, could be other alternatives in terms of how do you continue looking at a 2040-type time frame that, by then, you’ve significantly increased the ability to move passengers across the Hudson.”

The extension of the 7 line into Jersey, which had been pitched by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg nearly a decade ago, would “complement” plans to build a new bus terminal in Manhattan, Cotton said.

“The bigger picture here is the need to expand trans-Hudson capacity in the long term.”

Both the MTA and New Jersey Transit will be involved in what will be an 18-month study. The Port Authority plans to hire a consultant to carry out the work and has issued a request for proposals.

There has been a 28 percent increase in daily New Jersey commuters traveling into New York City within the past 25 years—which amounts to about 70,000 people—thanks to development and transit improvements in northern New Jersey, according to the Regional Plan Association.

The planning nonprofit, which released a report on the trend in August, expects that number to continue rising throughout the next 20 years. By 2040, about 524,000 commuters a day will be traveling east over the Hudson to work, a 38 percent increase from 2015 numbers.

The growth has taxed transportation in the region, including the Port’s current bus terminal, which is severely over-capacity. The growth is “obviously, what collectively we are struggling with,” Cotton said.

Jon Weinstein, a spokesman for the MTA, said in a statement that the authority “look(s) forward to working with federal, state and local public sector partners and private parties to explore long-term options for trans-Hudson transportation.”

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