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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Port Authority authorizes study of AirTrain Newark replacement


The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's board yesterday authorized $40 million toward the planning process to replace AirTrain Newark at Newark Liberty International Airport.

The study would evaluate construction of a new AirTrain system that would have more capacity and better service and reliability, authority officials said in a press release.

The board's action authorizes the Port Authority to award a $30 million contract for professional planning services. Also, the board authorized the authority to prepare a federal application to seek recovery of the $40 million in planning costs through airport Passenger Facility Charges.

Based on the study's results — which would include a review of funding, financing and project delivery alternatives — the project's full cost would be taken into account in upcoming reviews of the authority's 10-year capital plan, authority officials said.

AirTrain opened in 1996, first serving the terminals, parking garages and rental facilities at the airport. The system expanded in 2001 with the opening of the Newark Airport Rail Link station, which connected the AirTrain with New Jersey Transit and Amtrak trains that travel along the Northeast Corridor.

AirTrain's ridership totaled 2.2 million passengers in 2014, with about 25,000 riders using the system each day.

"AirTrain Newark is an important resource for passengers and workers at Newark Liberty, but like much of our regional transportation infrastructure it is showing its age," said Port Authority Chairman John Degnan. "[Thursday's] action will begin the process of updating the AirTrain system as part of the ongoing modernization and improvement of Newark Liberty."