This week the Regional Plan Association released a report focusing on one of the boldest proposals from the Fourth Regional Plan: the Trans-Regional Express (T-REX) rail plan. The challenges facing the Tri-State Area’s rail systems are legion – Penn Station’s limitations are infamous, our commuter railroads have large unmet capital needs and frequently suffer from unplanned service disruptions, train schedules fail to reflect the growth in reverse commuting and travel at non-peak hours, and neither fares nor service is optimized for intra-city travel, among other issues. RPA’s proposal for a Trans-Regional Express system solves all of these problems over a thirty-year timeline.
The T-REX plan has multiple components. First, the Gateway project would be extended into a crosstown tunnel that passes through a new train station on the east side of Manhattan and under the East River, ultimately linking New Jersey and Long Island. This would significantly expand regional rail capacity and allow for more trips that don’t terminate at Penn Station. Second, new tunnels fed by expanded New Jersey Transit service in Bergen, Passaic, and Rockland counties would cross the Hudson River at 57th Street, run south through Manhattan with stops that are similar to what is currently proposed for later stages of the Second Avenue Subway, cross into Brooklyn and connect with the Long Island Rail Road station at Atlantic Terminal, and continue on to John F. Kennedy Airport. Finally, a new line would connect these new tunnels to Metro North’s lines that service the Bronx and the northern suburbs.
The T-REX would seamlessly connect the Tri-State Area, dramatically expand rail service, and integrate the region’s mass transit services in a way that dramatically improves the experience for commuters. From an environmental perspective, RPA estimates that implementation of the T-REX would result in 400,000 fewer car trips per day. While the T-REX would be an undertaking of almost unprecedented difficulty, its potential benefits for the entire region mean that it deserves close scrutiny from our elected leaders.
The full report is available here.