Commuters who take PATH trains from New Jersey to Manhattan are going to notice improvements over the next several years, including more benches, cleaner surroundings and better loudspeaker systems, not to mention a nearly complete overhaul of one of the rail system's decaying stations.
The upgrades are part of a $200 million, 10-year project by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey that is being funded partly by the extra $2 motorists have been paying at the city's bridges and tunnels since 2008.
The bistate agency hopes the improvements make commuting more enjoyable for the approximately 70 million passengers who ride PATH each year as well as buff up the system's reputation for being drab, dirty and uncomfortable.
"We're trying to make it more commuter friendly," PATH deputy executive director Bill Baroni told The Record newspaper. "Like all good transit systems, we're evolving constantly."
One of the biggest projects will to be transform the Harrison station just outside Newark. The 97-year-old station is scheduled for more than $100 million in improvements, including replacing its aging platform and tiny waiting room with sleek, glass- and steel-covered pavilions.
Officials said the improvements at the Harrison station are envisioned to coincide with the area's planned residential and commercial redevelopment as well as the increased traffic generated by the Red Bull Arena soccer stadium.
Other stations will be spruced up with new seating, lighting and flooring, and loudspeaker systems that blare out frequently unintelligible announcements will be replaced.
Platforms along the corridor between Newark and the World Trade Center will be expanded to accommodate longer trains that will be able to carry an additional 400 passengers per trip, the Port Authority said.