Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Execs discuss new directions for the region’s impactful transit system.


“Infrastructure” might be a slushy word, but it was an important topic of interest for those who commuted to NJPAC on October 29 to attend or speak at the Business Partners Roundtable in the Chase Room.


Three leading executives “in the mobility biz” swapped views on the metro region’s crumbling, century-old transportation bones and on re-envisionings for the 21st century. Moderated by NJPAC President and CEO John Schreiber, the panel included Anthony Coscia, Board Chairman of the National Railroad Passenger Corp. (Amtrak); Kevin McCabe, Commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and President of the Carpenter Contractor Trust, and Stephen Sigmund, Chief of Public Outreach for Gateway Development Corp.


A shared message was that the constantly stymied efforts to raise billions more needed for the Gateway project – a rehab of the Northeast Corridor, which carries more than 200,000 rail passengers daily between New Jersey and New York – appear almost as daunting as getting commuters on board with the program. Panelists conceded that public awareness of rapidly aging infrastructure is frequently stirred following a crisis.


“It’s not about the trains, it’s about the people on the trains,” Coscia said, noting Amtrak’s mission to provide ridership with the sophisticated equipment and safety features they expect. Speakers mentioned the challenges that came with efforts to convert transit users into advocates for all this work: Inconvenience is typically a byproduct of the improvement.


Legacy projects such as the PANYNJ’s redevelopment of Terminal One at Newark Liberty International Airport, the Bayonne Bridge “Raise the Roadway” undertaking, and the Lincoln Tunnel’s helix replacement program were held up as recent examples of successful investments that were long overdue. With its port, bridges, rail, containers and tunnels operating at the highest standards, the Northeast Corridor’s effect on the national economy would be “staggering,” McCabe remarked.


This edition of the Roundtable, titled "Planes, Trains and Automobiles: A Discussion on Infrastructure in Our Region,” was sponsored by PNC Bank.


Oct. 30, 2018