Regional Plan Association Unveils New Report On Benefits Of The ARC Tunnel

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NEWARK – U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) today joined with the Regional Plan Association (RPA) at Newark Penn Station to unveil a new study that reveals the ARC Tunnel could reduce daily travel times by up to 30 minutes for thousands of New Jersey Transit commuters throughout the state.

The ARC Tunnel would finally provide a direct, transfer-free ride into Manhattan for riders on eight NJ Transit lines that currently require a transfer to reach New York City, and would double the capacity of NJ Transit trains going to and from Manhattan. In addition, New Jersey home values would increase substantially for each minute that the commute time into Manhattan is cut.

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“The ARC Tunnel will not only allow more New Jersey residents to work in New York, but it will significantly cut the amount of time it now takes to get to Manhattan,” said Lautenberg. “Make no mistake: with the ARC Tunnel, commutes will be shorter, but without this tunnel, commutes will become intolerably long. We are already at near capacity with the current 100 year-old tunnel, and demand for rail service in New Jersey to midtown Manhattan is expected to double over the next two decades. If New Jersey is to remain competitive for jobs in New York in the future, we must build this tunnel. If this project is cancelled, New Jersey’s transportation system will become a parking lot — isolated from job opportunities in Manhattan. Jobs that would have gone to New Jerseyans will instead go to people in Connecticut, Westchester County and Long Island. We can’t let that happen.”

“The benefits of ARC are far-reaching and well-defined,” said Bob Yaro, President, Regional Plan Association. “The project will increase the reliability of NJ TRANSIT trains, reduce traffic and greenhouse gas emissions, create jobs, drive economic growth in the right places and boost home values. Perhaps most significantly, ARC will cut commute times for NJ TRANSIT riders on average between 15 and 30 minutes per day.”

The report released today estimates the future savings in commuting times to and from Midtown that could be achieved with ARC. These estimates are based on Spring 2010 train schedules, trends in NJ Transit operations, and the project’s detailed Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). Time savings vary by line and by station. Some lines would gain a one-seat ride to Midtown, while others would see significantly increased service frequency during peak hours. Future operations decisions by NJ Transit could reallocate service in between stations and even between lines, based on demand, future development, and other factors.

By reducing commuting times, the ARC Tunnel would double the number of households in New Jersey within 50 minutes of Manhattan, where salaries are, on average, 60 percent higher than in New Jersey. About 275,000 New Jerseyans travel every day across the Hudson River. They bring home a disproportionate share of income, pay large income and property taxes, and create more jobs back home. Unfortunately, all the trans-Hudson crossings – NJ Transit, PATH and the vehicular tunnels and bridges – are at or near capacity. Building the ARC Tunnel would provide capacity for another 70,000 New Jerseyans to reach Manhattan.

By shortening commuter travel times to New York City, the ARC Tunnel will result in significantly higher home values for New Jersey. A previous study by the Regional Plan Association demonstrated that every minute of improvement in a commuter’s trip adds – on average – nearly $2,000 to the value of their home. And if you live within walking distance of a station, the number is closer to a $3,000 increase for every minute the commute time is cut.

The ARC Tunnel project remains in limbo as Gov. Chris Christie and the Federal Transit Administration continue a 14-day review of New Jersey’s decision to terminate it. The project was originally projected to cost $8.7 billion. The federal government and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey would each contribute $3 billion, with New Jersey picking up the tab for the rest of the project’s cost.

Last week, citing potential cost overruns that could drive the final price tag up to $14 billion, Christie made the decision to terminate the project. Christie agreed to review the decision after a visit from federal transportation officials last Friday.


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