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Prioritizing Transit Opportunities

As metropolitan residents increasingly rely on a Manhattan commute to access high-paying jobs, the availability and diversity of transit options to and from Manhattan has become increasingly more important. Further, as the price of gas increases and transit systems expand with growing demand, movement within the metropolitan region by local and regional rail has become more attractive as bridge and tunnel crossings and local bus usage decline. Changes in metropolitan residency and employment have also resulted in varying growth among the region’s commuter rail systems. In particular, counties in northern New Jersey have grown at a faster rate than traditional commuter counties in New York, including Kings, Queens, Nassau, and Westchester Counties. As a result, ridership on NJ Transit’s commuter and light rail lines as well as the Port Authority’s PATH lines continues to increase at higher rates than MTA LIRR, MTA Metro-North, and New York City Subway. However, despite the apparent growth in commuter population and increased local and commuter rail use, NJ residents are still severely limited in their ability to travel directly into New York City on a one-seat ride. As construction of the East Side Access project proceeds and the Penn Station Access project is studied, similar efforts need to be made to correct the imbalance between northern New Jersey’s significant commuter growth and the paucity of New Jersey rail lines terminating in Manhattan. As the metropolitan region prepares to usher in a new set of capital projects for the upcoming decade, it is imperative that decision makers are cognizant of the trends in transit use and population growth identified in this report. Further, political leaders must identify new opportunities to expand service to underserved areas while minimizing the creation of redundancies within the broader regional transit system.

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