The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey took a significant step on December 10 in its plan to extend PATH rapid transit service to Newark Liberty International Airport, according to reporting by Paul Milo (with contributions by Steve Strunsky) in the Star-Ledger (Dec. 12). The agency awarded a three-year, $6 million contract to engineering firm HNTB Corp. to examine technical and compliance issues and come up with precise cost estimates. Current estimates for the project are in the $1.5 billion range, with construction estimated to take five years and begin in 2018.  When completed, the project is advertised as providing a single-seat ride from the World Trade Center to the airport; NJ Transit and Amtrak currently provide direct service to the airport from New York Penn Station and other points on the Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast lines. (Precise details of the plan have not been announced, but observers believe that the new service would be only to the Newark airport rail station, not to air terminals; riders would still have to use the monorail people-mover to reach the terminals.)  Praise for the plan came from NJ transportation commissioner Jamie Fox and airport advocacy group Global Gateway Alliance.

Meanwhile, United Airlines has questioned the use of Port Authority airport user fees at Newark Liberty, saying that departure fees, which the airline characterized as "excessive," are being used for non-airport purposes such as the Pulaski Skyway overhaul. The story was reported by Steve Strunsky in the Star-Ledger (Dec. 12). United is a heavy user of the airport, and said that the fees there are 75 percent higher than at JFK Airport, also operated by the Port Authority.  In a complaint to the Federal Aviation Administration, United said that "the Port Authority operates EWR for its own benefit, contrary to the interests of the traveling public and the aeronautical users of the airport, imposing excessive, unreasonable, and discriminatory charges to generate huge surpluses that are siphoned off to non-aeronautical operations." United characterized the diversions as totaling more than $2 billion since 1994, and noted that the Pulaski Skyway was not even a Port Authority operation. One source of the Port Authority funding for the Pulaski Skyway project derives from the freeing up of $3 billion in Port Authority funding that had been slated for a new trans-Hudson rail tunnel, which was canceled by NJ Governor Christie in 2011.

See the complete stories at:

PATH extension here.

United Airlines' actions here.