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Extensive Rapid Transit Plan Proposed for North Jersey (1926-1927)

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Left: Operation Diagram of the North Jersey Rapid Transit System Showing the Five Routes Proposed by the Commission. Right: Construction of an Interstate Loop Line Connecting All the North Jersey Commuters' Railroads with Manhattan Is Recommended by the Commission. Battery Section to Be Built First.

Electric Railway Journal · Vol. 67, No. 6 · February 6, 1926 · pp. 239-242.

Extensive Rapid Transit Plan Proposed for North Jersey New Electric Railway System Comprising 82.6 Miles of Route Recommended in Report of Commission; Distributing Unit of System Would Be an Interstate Loop Line, 17.3 Miles Long, Costing $194,000,000, Including Equipment; Double-Track Line to Battery to Be Built First.

Principal features of a comprehensive plan for passenger transportation between communities in the nine northern counties of New Jersey and the city of New York are outlined in a report submitted on Jan. 15 to the Legislature of the state by the North Jersey Transit Commission. A preliminary report presented about a year ago was abstracted in Electric Railway Journal for Feb. 7, 1925, page 222. The ultimate object of the program recommended is the creation of a new electric railway system comprising 82.6 miles of route, and the electrification of 399 route-miles of railroad now operated by steam. As the first step it is proposed to construct an interstate loop line 17.3 miles in length connecting with all of the north Jersey commuters' railroads and passing under the Hudson River into New York City by two tunnels, one uptown and one downtown. A new low-level subway through Manhattan would complete the loop. Construction costs of this preliminary project are estimated at $154,000,000, with $40,000,000 additional for equipment. The cost of power facilities is not included in this estimate.

In developing the plan three separate problems were considered. The first was to furnish rapid transit facilities for the area within 20 miles of New York City and to connect this area with Manhattan by facilities providing service comparable to that of present subways. The second problem was to provide eventually for a commuter or suburban transit service for the area within 40 miles of New York City. The third was to utilize the existing rapid transit facilities, the Hudson & Manhattan, the Interborough and the Brooklyn-Manhattan systems to serve North Jersey more effectively than at present.

As the result of the study of these problems the commission has recommended a program consisting of six principal parts. Listed in the order of their importance, they are as follows: (1) Construction of a new North Jersey rapid transit system. (2) Hudson & Manhattan Railroad extensions in New Jersey. (3) Interborough extensions of its Manhattan lines to New Jersey. (4) Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit system extensions from Manhattan to New Jersey. (5) Extension of north Jersey rapid transit system, listed as part one of this program, to serve a larger area. (6) Electrification of existing steam railroads.

Construction of this comprehensive system cannot be realized in any large way at the outset, the report states. Its tremendous cost alone precludes such a realization. It is outlined only as a guide to present and future transit development in this region.

The North Jersey rapid transit system, part one of the program, would consist of the following five lines: (1) Interstate loop line, running north and south between the Hackensack River and Bergen Hill in New Jersey, passing under the Hudson River via a tunnel at the Battery, up through Manhattan to 57th Street and back through another tunnel to New Durham. Its length would be 17.3 miles. A so-called Meadows transfer station would be located near the intersection of the Erie and D., L. & W. Railroads. (2) A line from Paterson through Montclair and Newark, following the interstate loop route through Manhattan to New Durham and thence to Rutherford and Hackensack. The length of this route would be 41.9 miles. (3) A line from Ridgewood via Paterson, Passaic, Rutherford, New Durham, the interstate loop route in New York City, to Newark and Elizabeth. Route mileage would be 39.8. (4) An intrastate route from Elizabeth through Newark and Rutherford to Hackensack, 18.8 miles in length. (5) Another intrastate line from New Durham to Newark, 13.0 miles in length. The location of these routes is shown on an accompanying map.

Total mileage for the five routes would be 130.8, of which 48.2 miles would be duplication because some routes operate over the same tracks as others. The net total route mileage would be 82.6. Construction cost of the entire undertaking is estimated at $260,000,000 with $122,000,000 additional for equipment, or $382,000,000 altogether.

Because the expense of building this system is thought to be too great to permit proceeding with it as a single project, the commission suggests that it be undertaken progressively. The interstate loop line constitutes the Manhattan circulating and distributing unit for the whole system and it is held to be logically the first construction step.

PRESENT SUBURBAN FACILITIES SATURATED. During 1924 the suburban railroads and ferries serving northern New Jersey transported to and from their terminals 246,000,000 passengers. Of these 201,000,000 were railroad passengers. A 24-hour traffic survey was made by the commission and the railroads working in co-operation. On the day of the survey 264,000 New Jersey commuters arrived in New York City, of whom 204,000 were railroad passengers. During the maximum half-hour period in the morning between 8 and 8:30 more than 25 per cent of the daily one-way traffic was carried, amounting to about 97,000 passengers. This is the real tax on the suburban transportation facilities. Some 71 railroad trains arrived at all the terminals combined during this period, or one train every 25 seconds on the average.

This state of affairs has almost saturated the existing suburban facilities serving northern New Jersey. The railroad and ferry traffic during the past ten years has increased about 46 per cent, or at an average rate of about 4 per cent per year. The need for relief is so urgent, the report states, that temporary measures must be resorted to at once. This is the basis upon which the plans of the commission have been developed and upon which its recommendations have been made, despite the fact that piecemeal rapid transit development is thought to be undesirable.

ALTERNATIVE MEANS OF RELIEF. It is recognized that there are two ways of serving the north Jersey commuter traffic. First, additional terminal facilities might be provided to relieve the present and increasing congestion. This would require all passengers to alight at the terminals just as they do now and to find their way by other facilities to their destinations. Second, the existing terminals might be abandoned and through service to New York City established, thereby delivering all passengers directly to their destinations without requiring them to transfer or use any other facility. The second is the alternative which the commission believes should be adopted.

To throw light on how the New Jersey lines should be routed, the traffic survey made by the commission included investigation of the actual destinations of the Manhattan-bound New Jersey traffic. Distribution of this traffic after reaching Manhattan is shown in the accompanying table.

DISTRIBUTION OF NEW JERSEY RAILROAD COMMUTER TRAFFIC IN NEW YORK CITY
Destination District Per Cent of Total Traffic
Below Chambers Street 38
Chambers to Fourteenth Street 14
Fourteenth to 33d Street 15
33d to 42d Street 12
42d to 69th Street 10
North of 59th Street 5
Brooklyn 5
Queens 1
 
100

Although the New Jersey traffic enters from the west, slightly more of it is bound east of Broadway than west of Broadway. The respective percentages are 52 and 48.

Analysis of the traffic distribution in Manhattan indicates, according to the report, that the first additional transit facilities provided for New Jersey should enter at or near the Battery, and be routed up through Manhattan at least far enough to serve the 59th Street district.

Having determined that the north Jersey rapid transit line should cover Manhattan north and south, the next thing was to determine the streets along which it should be routed. A rapid transit line will conveniently serve a district a half mile on each side of the line, the report states. Manhattan Island at Chambers Street is about 1 mile wide, its width gradually decreasing to nothing at the Battery. Therefore a north and south line located anywhere below Chambers Street will conveniently serve that area. Above Chambers Street Manhattan increases to about 2 miles in width at Canal Street, and from there north to 125th Street its width remains constant. North of Chambers Street two lines located about half a mile away on each side of the center will conveniently serve Manhattan from river to river.

Eventual construction of two lines up and down Manhattan are recommended. It is proposed, however, to construct only one such line at the start, and the East Side line has been selected for the reason that it enters Manhattan from the west and therefore will have to cross all the west side and central New York City rapid transit lines. In this way it will furnish its passengers with easy transfer facilities to such lines.

The proposed route is from the Battery under Washington and Barclay streets, Park Row, Mulberry Street, Lafayette Street, Irving Place, Lexington Avenue and 57th Street to the Hudson River. The loop will be a two-track line for its entire length excepting only a short distance in New Jersey where it will be four-track to permit Hudson & Manhattan trains to operate to the proposed Meadows transfer station. All under-river tunnels and all underground portions of the line will be constructed large enough to accommodate standard steam railroad equipment so that electric locomotives may haul commuter trains and standard steam trains around the loop pending the electrification of the suburban lines, after which it is assumed that multiple-unit equipment will be used.

Because it would be utilized in both directions the capacity of the proposed interstate loop line would be equivalent, it is said, to two two-track lines or one four-track line from New Jersey to New York City, although it consists only of a two-track line up and down through Manhattan. Its carrying capacity is estimated in the report to be as follows:

Tracks 2
Trains per hour 70
Cars per hour 770
Passengers per hour 77,000
Daily passengers 192,500

This estimate is based on the operation of 35 trains per track per hour. Each train would be of eleven cars and would carry 100 passengers per car. The daily passengers is based on a rush-hour load ratio of 40 per cent of the daily one-way traffic being carried in the maximum hour.

METHODS OF FINANCING. There are three ways in which a transit project may be financed, the report states. Private capital may be called upon either to assist in the financing or to provide all of the money necessary. State, city or community credit may be utilized by issuing bonds. A benefit assessment plan may be used to raise the money under which each beneficiary, the rider, the taxpayer, the land owner and the steam railroad traversed may pay a share of the cost of the line and the service on it proportional to the benefit that each receives. These financial plans may be used separately or in combination with each other.

According to the commission a 10-cent fare will be possible on the interstate loop if the interest and sinking fund charges on the construction costs can be eliminated. However, if these interest and sinking fund charges must be included, or in other words, if all of the money must be borrowed and therefore the most costly method of financing must be adopted, then a 15-cent fare will be required. It is considered that the quantity of service provided would permit a comfortable rush-hour travel without excessive overloading. Seating capacity per car is assumed to be 72 and the average rush-hour load 100 passengers. This means on the average only 28 standees per car or a 40 per cent overload.

BATTERY LINE AS FIRST RELIEF. It is recognized that as a temporary expedient and as an emergency measure it may be necessary to start with a project requiring an even smaller expenditure than the $154,000,000 required to construct the interstate loop line. In such an event the report states that the only recourse is to utilize some of the existing rapid transit facilities and to extend them somewhat. Construction of the proposed new Battery tunnel and the continuation of the line in New Jersey to and including the Meadows transfer station, constituting the southern part of the proposed interstate loop, will afford the easiest, cheapest and most effective means of securing immediate relief for northern New Jersey, the report states. Such a line might be operated either by the Interborough Rapid Transit Company, or the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad. If the Interborough becomes the operator the local tracks of the east and west side subways will be connected with the line at the Battery as a temporary measure, the west side subway by a short connection from Morris and Greenwich Streets, the East Side Subway by continuing the construction of the interstate loop line as far as Vesey Street, and further connecting it with the subway at Spruce Street. If the Hudson & Manhattan becomes the operator the Battery line will be continued as a part of the interstate loop to the first station in Manhattan at Morris Street, and there stop temporarily. The cost of the Battery line exclusive of power facilities would be $73,500,000.

Besides possibly using the Battery line section of the interstate loop as a temporary transit measure, at some time in the future the Hudson & Manhattan System can be extended in New Jersey to advantage. Two such extensions are recommended. One is in Hoboken from the Lackawanna Station along Washington Street to Fourteenth Street, a distance of 1.3 route-miles, and the second is in Newark from the proposed Pennsylvania Railroad Market Street Station out Clinton and Springfield Avenues to Springfield, a distance of 8.1 miles. This is a total of 9.4 route-miles and the cost is approximated at $75,000,000, including equipment.

Similarly the Interborough Rapid Transit Company in time may have extensions constructed under the Hudson River to New Jersey. Three such possible extensions are outlined: First, the east side subway from Spruce Street via Vesey and Washington Streets to a tunnel at the Battery, a distance of 1 mile; second, the west side subway from Morris Street via Greenwich Street to the Battery and thence with the east side subway extension under the Hudson River along the Central of New Jersey right-of-way under the Boulevard, Tonnelle Avenue through Meadows transfer under Manhattan, Central, Bergenline and Anderson Avenues to Cliffside Park, a distance of 15.0 route-miles; third, the Queensboro subway from 41st Street and Eighth Avenue under 41st Street, the Hudson River and Franklin Street to connect with the Bergenline Avenue line, a distance of 2.5 route-miles. These extensions are all for two tracks and are roughly estimated to cost $150,000,000 for construction and equipment. At the Battery these extensions would require their own tunnels so the operation could be entirely independent of the interstate loop.

The Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation Fourteenth Street line now terminating at Sixth Avenue in Manhattan could be extended under the Hudson River, Seventh Street, Hoboken, and South Street, Jersey City, to the Meadows transfer station, thus affording New Jersey commuters access to Manhattan at Fourteenth Street and thence across Manhattan into Brooklyn with convenient transfer by means of the B.M.T. lines to almost anywhere in Brooklyn.

Later on additional lines may be added to the north Jersey rapid transit system, thereby extending the advantage of rapid transit to a larger part of the inner ring area. Ultimately an electric suburban system for the commuters from the outer ring area may be inaugurated by electrifying the existing railroad facilities traversing the area, and thus furnishing a through service into and through Manhattan eventually for all commuters in New Jersey.

During the past year the work of the commission has dealt largely with the engineering features of the proposed plan. Co-operation was received from the Transit Commission and Board of Transportation of New York City, the Public Service Commission, the Westchester Transit Commission, the Port of New York Authority, the Regional Plan of New York and the various railroads.

In submitting its report to the Legislature the commission expresses the belief that the scope of its work is most clearly set forth by simply transmitting the report of Daniel L. Turner, its consulting engineer, and Charles N. Green, its chief engineer. An indorsement of the proposed plan by Col. William J. Wilgus is included at the end of the report.

Electric Railway Journal · Vol. 69, No. 8 · February 19, 1927 · pp. 333-337.

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Perspective of Proposed Meadows Transfer Station Near the Present Croxton Yard of the Erie Railroad.

New Plans for North Jersey Transit. Studies Made by North Jersey Transit Commission Embrace a Loop Line Between Manhattan Borough, New York, and the Steam Railroads Serving New Jersey Communities; Alternate Plans Provide for Various Contingencies; Many Differences from Proposals of Former Commission.

Marked efforts toward elimination of former physical objections and definite recommendations for the speedy realization of the interstate rapid transit loop are features of the new report of the North Jersey Rapid Transit Commission, which was presented to Governor A. Harry Moore on Feb. 14. This report, prepared under the direction of Chairman Daniel A. Garber, follows an earlier report presented in 1926, and which gave somewhat similar recommendations although not in such complete form.

In order to obtain definiteness and clarity the report is presented in three major sections: Status of the physical plan, prepared by Glenn C. Reeves, assistant chief engineer, and Daniel L. Turner, consulting engineer; studies in means of financing, prepared by Philip H. Cornick, specialist in taxes and assessments, and opinion of counsel relative to district organization, prepared by Spaulding Frazer, counsel.

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Men Responsible for 1927 North Jersey Transit Plans: P. H. Cornick, D. J. Turner, D. A. Garber, S. Fraser, G. C. Beeves.

While the basic plan is the same as that reviewed in Electric Railway Journal for Feb. 6, 1926, page 239, the commission, during the five months at its disposal, has by exhaustive studies broadened the entire scope of the project and developed several new features of outstanding importance. In addition, it has apparently established an entente cordiale not only with the managements of the steam roads entering New York but with the transit officials of New York City.

Basic Plan of 1926. (1.) Construction of a new North Jersey rapid transit system. (2.) Hudson & Manhattan Railroad extensions in New Jersey. (3.) Interborough extensions of its Manhattan lines to New Jersey. (4.) Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit system extensions from Manhattan to New Jersey. (5.) Extension of North Jersey rapid transit system, listed as part one of this program, to serve a larger area. (6.) Electrification of existing steam railroads.

The North Jersey rapid transit system, part one of the program, would consist of the following five lines: (1.) Interstate loop line, running north and south between the Hackensack River and Bergen Hill in New Jersey, passing under the Hudson River via a tunnel at the Battery, up through Manhattan to 57th Street and back through another tunnel to New Durham. Its length would be 17.3 miles. A so-called Meadows Transfer station would be located near the intersection of the Erie and Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroads. (2.) A line from Paterson through Montclair and Newark, following the Interstate loop route through Manhattan to New Durham and thence to Rutherford and Hackensack. The length of this route would be 41.9 iles. (3.) A line from Ridgewood via Paterson, Passaic, Rutherford, New Durham, the Interstate loop route in New York City, to Newark and Elizabeth. Route mileage would be 39.8. (4.) An intrastate route from Elizabeth through Newark and Rutherford to Hackensack, 18.8 miles in length. (5.) Another intrastate line from New Durham to Newark, 13 miles in length

Briefly the new features are: (1) A transfer station at Journal Square, Jersey City. (2) Physical connections with the New York City Board of Transportation's Eighth Avenue subway and various changes in the 1926 plans for physical connections with the downtown subways. (3) A transfer station at New Durham, N. J. (4) Definite plans for extending the B.M.T. Fourteenth Street-Eastern subway to Meadows Transfer Station. (5) Definite plans for extending the Interborough Rapid Transit 41st Street subway to connect with the New Durham Transfer Station. (6) An independent subway through Manhattan in conjunction with the authorities of Westchester County, New York.

These new plans are predicated on a detailed study of passenger traffic into New York City on the various routes from New Jersey points. The accompanying table summarizes the information which was secured from an elaborate traffic count.

ONE WAY COMMUTER TRAFFIC ON NEW JERSEY STEAM RAILROADS FOR A TYPICAL DAY
  Excluding Passengers H.&M. Per Cent Including Passengers H.&M. Per Cent
B. &0 550 0.36 550 0.18
Central Railroad of New Jersey 28,106 18.59 28,106 9.12
Delaware, Lackwanna & Western 34,296 22.68 34,296 11.13
Erie 50,337 33.29 50,337 16.33
Hudson & Manhattan     156,986 50.94
Lehigh 980 0.65 980 0.32
New York, Ontario & Western 338 0.22 338 0.11
Pennsylvania 24,248 16.04 24,248 7.87
West Shore 12,351 8.17 12,351 4.00
Total
151,206

100.00

308,192

100.00

Of the nine steam railroads involved, four, the Central Railroad of New Jersey; the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western; the Erie, and the West Shore, now handling 83 per cent of the commuting population, will need to make a complete reorganization of their terminal operations, and three will have to move from their waterfront terminals to the other side of Palisades Hill.

The commission has laid the situation before the managements of the roads affected and has obtained the co-operation of practically all of them. The West Shore is recommending a rearrangement of its terminal facilities in accordance with the commission's plans; the Erie, whose traffic load is 33 per cent of the total and exceeds by 46.8 per cent that of any other system, has made helpful suggestions and still has the plan under advisement. In this stand the Erie has been joined by the Lackawanna and the Central Railroad of New Jersey, whose traffic loads are 23 and 19 per cent respectively. The Hudson & Manhattan (which receives 31 per cent of its total passengers from steam railroads) has agreed to the extension of its lines to the proposed Meadows Transfer Station. The Pennsylvania Railroad, which enters New York directly and hence is not particularly concerned in the steam commuter problem, has raised no particular objection to the plan. The Lehigh Valley is noncommittal.

On the basis of a request from the engineering staff of the Port of New York Authority, the advisability was considered of revising plans for the proposed 178th Street and Fort Lee Bridge so as to permit of at least four rapid transit lines passing over this structure.

JOURNAL SQUARE STATION. Returning to the outstanding modifications of and additions to the 1926 plan, the Journal Square Station, Jersey City, has been given considerable study because it is the locus of most of the bus and trolley passenger traffic on the west bank of the Hudson River. On a typical day the buses alone deliver 52,000 one-way passengers, most of whom use the Hudson & Manhattan tubes to New York City, so that any plan for traffic relief at this location affects both the Pennsylvania and H. & M. Railroads. "This plan," the report states, "proposes a rapid transit station to be located on the rock ledge which now forms the northeasterly side of the railroad cut in which the present H. & M. Journal Square Station is located. The station is to extend between the Hudson County Boulevard Bridge and a point some 250 ft. beyond the Summit Avenue Bridge. The rapid transit electric station platforms below are reached by ramps and stairs from a mezzanine over the electric tracks, which in turn is reached from the street level by additional ramps, one connecting with the Boulevard Bridge, another from Bascot and Magnolia Avenue, and another connection with the Public Service trolley plaza and the Hudson & Manhattan platforms. Entrances are also provided from Summit Avenue to this mezzanine. . . . Other studies for various routing through the Journal Square section which would not make use of the right-of-way of the Pennsylvania Railroad through the northern arch of the Boulevard Bridge also have been made."

Taking into account the colossal problem of financing the Interstate loop as a single unit and based upon suggestions of John H. Delaney, chairman of the Board of Transportation of New York City, the commission made nine different studies to determine the most advantageous routing for the North Jersey transit subway in order to make connections not only to the east side and west side Interborough lines but also to the independent system of the Board of Transportation. These plans include a Manhattan terminal building such as the present Hudson Terminal, utilization of the empty reverse movement capacity now existing on the local subway tracks during the morning and evening rush hours, and a general scheme that will not only collect the greatest number of commuters conveniently, but at the same time form a part of the final loop.

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Left: Scheme "F" -- Proposed Physical Connection of the North Jersey Transit Line with the West Side Interborough Subway South of Rector Street and with the Local Tracks of the East Side Interborough Subway South of Brooklyn Bridge Station. Right: Scheme "G" -- Alternate Plan for Physical Connection of North Jersey Transit Line with East and West Side Interborough Subways and Subway of the Board of Transportation Now Being Built In Church Street.

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Left: Scheme "I" -- Which Proposes Physical Connections with the West Side and East Side Interborough Subways and Also with the Independent Subway of the Board of Transportation. Right: Scheme "D" -- Proposed Transfer Station at New Durham, N. J., for Commuters on Several Branch Lines of the Erie Railroad and for the West Shore Railroad. This Plan Has Been Indorsed by the Latter Road.

Of the nine studies, three of the most desirable are illustrated in this article. These are referred to as Schemes F, G and I. In all of these the North Jersey Transit Commission's subway line would enter Manhattan at the Battery. In Scheme F the line would bifurcate to make connections with local lines of the east side and west side Interborough subways, the former connection being south of Brooklyn Bridge with deep level stations under the east side line. This contemplates provisions for development of the Board of Transportation's subway plans.

Scheme G, on the other hand, proposes connections to both Interborough subways and also with the Board of Transportation's independent line in Church Street. The plan of the connection is shown in the map. Scheme I also proposes a connection to each of these three subways, but would include a cross-connecting track at Barclay Street. It also contemplates running the new line under Washington Street for the southern portion of the route, making connection with the east side subway at a point north of Worth Street.

According to the report, "all of the studies for one entrance into Manhattan have been made with the thought in mind that at some future time it would be necessary to have an independent commuter subway through Manhattan to connect with New Jersey. These schemes, F, G and I, are to be considered as a first step measure, and when the time does arrive for the independent commuter subway this first step construction would be used as a part of that independent line."

At New Durham, N. J., on the meadows opposite, 57th Street, New York, the commission proposes a rapid transit station whereby the steam railroad passengers from the West Shore Railroad, the New York, Susquehanna & Western and the Northern Railroad of New Jersey will have opportunity to transfer to rapid transit electric trains for distribution in New York City or other parts of New Jersey when the comprehensive plan is accomplished. Four studies have been made for this station, any one of which would mean the removal of steam railroad passengers and local ferry passengers from the waterfront terminals. "This very important step," continues the report, "is one that should be made, and the West Shore Railroad is in sympathy with such a move."

Of the four plans presented, Scheme D provides for a complete separation of the Erie and West Shore Railroad tracks and platforms by a passageway or driveway leading to the ticket offices and other facilities. Directly over this passageway and parallel to the axis of the steam station platform are the electric tracks and platforms. To reach these platforms passenger bridges leading to a distributing concourse over the driveway and directly under the electric platforms are provided over the steam tracks.

In order that this transfer station might be of service to the commuters, the minimum rapid transit construction required would be either the 57th Street trunk of the Interstate loop or the 41st Street extension of the Interborough subway. At this point recommendation is made that should the 57th Street tunnels be constructed before the Interstate loop, they should be made of sufficient size to accommodate standard railroad equipment.

B.M.T. FOURTEENTH STREET EXTENSION. In regard to this extension the commission now makes these definite proposals as a means not only of effecting the most direct connection with the B.M.T. subway for traffic of the Lackawanna and Erie, but of serving passengers from Hoboken and the heights section of Jersey City. The most advantageous route extends from Fourteenth Street and Sixth Avenue westward under the Hudson, emerging to the surface about Clinton Street, Hoboken, to pass into the side of Palisades Hill at Congress Street, where the route turns southward in subway into Palisade Avenue. Continuing under Palisade Avenue, the line turns into Franklin Street and thence into Manhattan Avenue, where, after the Hudson County Boulevard has been reached, it emerges in the western slope of the Palisades to continue on trestle to Meadows Transfer Station. This line will be stub-ended and the rapid transit electric trains will be returned over the same rails to New York City.

"This is a very logical extension," the report states, "and should be made at the earliest opportunity. Conference has revealed that such an extension would be acceptable to the New York Rapid Transit Corporation." In addition it is pointed out that it might prove desirable to extend this line to New Durham Transfer as well and then return to New York via the 57th Street tunnels to connect with the stub-ended tracks of the B.M.T. at 59th Street and Seventh Avenue, thus forming the upper trunk of the Interstate loop.

INTERBOROUGH 41ST STREET EXTENSION. All plans for the New Durham Transfer Station provide for the extension of the 41st Street Interborough subway line as part of the rapid transit system almost in a direct line under the river through Palisades hill to the New Durham transfer station, with a subway station on Franklin Street between Boulevard and Bergenline Avenues, Union City, N. J., which would serve a large portion of those local ferry commuters now depending upon the Weehawken ferries for transportation to New York City.

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Route Planned for New Jersey-Westchester County (New York) Subway. One of the First Relief Measures Suggested by the Commission.

WESTCHESTER-NEW JERSEY COMMUTER SUBWAY. On this project the commission makes some very definite observations based upon the uncertainty of the present subway policy of New York City, which it believes might prevent the construction of connections to the subways. In such an event the commission urges a co-ordination of effort with the authorities of Westchester County, New York, for the construction of an independent subway from some point in that county through the entire length of Mahattan, under the Hudson River to the Central Railroad of New Jersey terminal at Communipaw. Thence one section would continue along the Newark branch of that road to its present Broad Street station in Newark, while the other section would extend to Meadows Transfer through the Journal Square section of Jersey City. On this point the report continues:

This would furnish Newark with a rapid transit service in addition to that rendered by the Pennsylvania Railroad (Hudson & Manhattan) and at the same time would afford the suburban passengers of the Erie and the Lackawanna Meadows Transfer access to a rapid transit line for distribution in New York City. Such a line would be economical of operation in that the loaded trains from Westchester County would distribute their passenger load through Manhattan; then these same trains would continue to Newark and Meadows Transfer and return with another load of Manhattan-bound passengers. This is a slight modification of a part of the comprehensive plan as presented in the 1926 report. The main points of difference, however, are only temporary in that the southern trunk of the proposed North Jersey Transit System would terminate at Newark until the comprehensive plan can be fully developed instead of continuing to Paterson or Elizabeth, and the Manhattan trunk would be continued to Westchester County until the 57th Street line or northern trunk of the Interstate loop could be constructed.

In the event that the complete Interstate loop commuter subway cannot be developed and financed as a unit, then the first section of that loop constructed should be an express and local service line from and including Meadows Transfer station to a physical connection with the downtown Manhattan subways.

Should the subway policy of New York prevent this physical connection to downtown Manhattan subways, then the first step of construction should be (in conjunction with the Westchester County of New York State) the Westchester-Meadows Transfer-Newark commuter subway.

PLAN OF FINANCE. The section of the report dealing with finance, comprising some eight chapters, is a powerful argument as to the fallacy of financing such a project by a private corporation. Admitting that there are probably one or two railroad companies in the North Jersey transit district which have reserves adequate for the establishment of their own commuter terminals in New York City, the report dismisses these as local and, continuing, comments:

"So far as any comprehensive plan for rapid transit is concerned, however, no public body and no conceivable combination of private agencies is in position to provide accumulated capital sufficient for its consummation."

The commission also frowns on anticipated revenues as a means of financing the project and makes it clear that the only revenues that could be made available for construction costs would be those derived from taxes as special assessments. The report continues:

The only remaining alternative is that of basing the financial plan, in part at least, in anticipating future revenues in other words, the issuance of bonds to be supported out of operating revenues, taxes, special assessments, or a combination of all three. If the bonds are to be supported solely by fares and additional revenues from advertising, your engineers have estimated that the cost for total expenses would require a fare of 16.56 cents per passenger on a basis of 125,000,000 passengers per annum and 11.28 cents on a basis of 250,000,000.

The nearest comparable service rendered in the district is that supplied by the Hudson & Manhattan lines whose fare is 5 cents for intrastate passengers and 6 or 10 cents for interstate passengers, depending on their destination in New York. It is open to question, therefore, whether it would be feasible, wise or desirable to rely solely on anticipated future operating revenues as a means of supporting construction costs. If that be granted, revenues derived through the taxing power would be needed at least to supplement operating revenues.

A concrete example will serve to illustrate the relative advantages and disadvantages from the standpoint of the taxpayer of using this supplementary source as a basis for a bond issue, or of making a direct levy for construction funds as they are needed. The preliminary estimates made by the engineers of the cost of constructing the interstate loop (exclusive of land costs) totaled $154,000,000. Assuming a seven-year construction period and equal yearly expenditures throughout that term the annual requirements would amount to $22,000,000.

In order to provide this from current tax revenues a levy amounting to $5.44 on every $1,000 in the net valuation taxable for 1926 in the North Jersey Transit district would be necessary. The weighted average tax rate imposed on the same base in 1926 for all purposes was $39.63 per $1,000. Assuming that all other governmental expenditures were to remain constant and that there were to be no change in assessed valuations, this additional burden would require an aggregate average tax rate of $45.07 per $1,000 for the seven-year period.

If, on the other hand, seven successive bond issues for $22,000,000 each were to be made during the construction period, each issue running for 35 years and bearing interest at 4-1/4 per cent per annum, and if sinking funds were assumed to earn at the rate of 3-1/2 per cent yearly, then the increase in tax rate would amount to only 31 cents per $1,000 of assessed values of the first year. It would increase, 31 cents per year during the remaining six years of the construction period and would then remain constant at $2.19 per year for 28 years.

If current revenues from special assessments were to be relied on, the increased burden would, of course, remain the same, but the base against which it was levied would be considerably narrower. It is evident, therefore, that no plan for financing construction costs direct from current revenues, and without resort to bond issue, can be carried out for a work of the magnitude of the proposed Interstate loop without bringing about an unduly severe increase in the current burdens which already fall on taxable or assessable property.

Following the foregoing analysis, the commission makes the following conclusions relative to choice of means of financing that would seem to be warranted:

1. That the proposed North Jersey Transit System be publicly financed and publicly owned. It is true that the only rapid transit system now operating in the North Jersey transit district was provided by private capital. It is probable, furthermore, that certain of the railway companies which handle large numbers of commuters in this district have the capital and credit necessary to provide rapid transit connections with New York City for their passengers. Nevertheless, all such operations, desirable though they may be, can provide only local and temporary relief; and there is slight probability that any one company, or any group of companies, can provide the necessary capital for a transit system of the type which the North Jersey Transit Commission believes to be essential to the continued and symmetrical growth of the territory comprised within the district.

2. That the bonds to be issued for construction costs be supported by supplementary pledges of full faith and credit based on the taxing power. Regardless of the types of revenues which are to be pledged to the support and retirement of bonds, the supplementary pledge of full faith and credit is essential to obtaining the lowest interest rates.

3. That the maximum term of all bonds issued for transit developments, regardless of the specific part of the work for which they are to be issued, be fixed at 35 years. The completion of a rapid transit system in this region will inevitably bring new population, and an attendant increase in problems, for whose solution further bond issues will be needed. The imposition of long-deferred burdens which will fall on future generations, who will have abundant current burdens of their own, is therefore to be avoided.

SPECIAL TAXING POWERS ASKED. In the main the legal section of the report is a plea that the commission be empowered with authority to levy taxes within the territory affected:

A study of the portion of this report dealing with the physical and financial aspects of the transit situation shows that no type of agency now in existence, except that of state authority financed by general state tax or by state bond issue, similar to the existing Highway Commission, can bring to the problem powers adequate for its solution.

And yet the problem, despite its magnitude and the large territory involved, is essentially a district problem, in which other portions of the state have naturally either no interest at all, or, if we bear in mind the rapidly growing Camden metropolitan section at best so slight an interest as to make the proposal of state-wide authority supported by the contribution of the whole state, whether in the form of direct tax or of bonds, one which must seem obnoxious to the voters of those parts and therefore, quite naturally and properly, one which, except under unusual conditions, would scarcely receive the support of the senators and assemblymen from those counties. . . . Many commissions have been granted assessing powers, and this has been upheld not only in state courts but in the broadcast terms by the federal Supreme Court as in no way violating the due process and equal protection clauses of the federal Constitution.

Sources

Electric Railway Journal, McGraw Hill Company, Digitized by Microsoft, Americana Collection, archive.org.









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