The political spectacle of the culture of retribution in New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s office spilling out into the open is just too fun, but if there’s a policy angle here, it’s that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is basically pulling a Fort Lee on eastern Pennsylvania (and even more New Jerseyans) every day of the year.
The future of eastern PA’s economic growth depends on further shrinking the time distance between the two big rich metros to our north and south – New York City and Washington, DC.
The physical distance and the necessary speed limits account for some of the time distance. But another big chunk of the time distance comes down to policy choices about how to manage the flow of traffic on the highways and at the tunnels. Do mass transit vehicles, which move a lot of people using a radically smaller amount of space, get priority on the public roads? No they do not, as Michael Noda points out:
Meanwhile, even rid of the New Jersey appointees directly responsible for the closure of the Fort Lee toll lanes, PANYNJ is still fairly useless from a transportation reform perspective. The Lincoln Tunnel Exclusive Bus Lane (XBL) is arguably the most successful and efficient transit facility in the country, but the XBL runs eastbound-only from 6:00a to 10:00a on weekdays, with not even a hint that PANYNJ might build on that success by creating a westbound XBL in the evening. Or implement any kind of bus priority at any other time. Or at any other crossing under its jurisdiction.
For Greater Philadelphians who travel up the Turnpike of Anger by bus, who still number thousands of passengers daily, this is a big deal and a big problem; it’s far worse for daily commuters at the PANYNJ crossings. And with Greyhound, Peter Pan, their subsidiaries BoltBus and Yo!, Megabus, and the resurgent Chinatown carriers all looking like they’re here to stay, and Amtrak fares likely to remain out of reach for the bottom tiers of the market, this is one New York problem that strikes home in Philadelphia.
If PANYNJ were to ever get wise and implement 24/7 bidirectional bus priority lanes at the Lincoln Tunnel, or any kind of improved bus approach to the George Washington Bridge, it’s probable that the concerns of us here in Philadelphia wouldn’t have had the slightest bit of influence on the decision-makers. But you’d better believe that, when they do, we’ll care. Meanwhile, we have the unfortunate task of anticipating a third of our region’s transportation decisions being made by a temperamental bully for the next three years. Oh, rapture.
A 24/7 Express Bus Lane through the Lincoln Tunnel and a dedicated bus lane on the highways would make it easier for people to work in New York City and bring their disposable income riches back home to spend in Pennsylvania, but Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo clearly have a plot to destroy our economy! Let’s see some more of those emails..