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PATH Train Riders Oppose Proposal To End Overnight Service

HOBOKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) --  A report is calling for having a third party run the PATH trains between New Jersey and New York City and scaling back the transit system's hours, a proposal that upsets transit advocates.

The suggestion to eliminate PATH service between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. on weeknights was part of a report from a special panel formed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reform the Port Authority.

The governors offered the recommendations as they both vetoed an overhaul of the Port Authority.

The bill would have overhauled the agency by requiring an independent annual audit, creating an inspector general's office, restricting lobbying and creating a whistleblower protection program. It also would have required Port Authority board members to swear they'll act in good faith.

PATH Train Riders Oppose Proposal To End Overnight Service

In place of the legislation, Cuomo and Christie on Saturday recommended reforms and said they would ask authority board members for their resignations. They called for a single chief executive officer to oversee the authority in place of an executive director and deputy executive director under the current system.

The panel also says another operator may be able to run the trains more efficiently. The report did not spell out who that operator could be, but there have been some calls for New Jersey Transit to take over.

The recommendation to limit PATH service says ridership falls off so much during the overnights that stopping service altogether could save $10 million a year and help deal with the agency's $387-million deficit.

But many who use PATH told CBS2's Ilana Gold that ending overnight service would be a nightmare.

"It would make any transportation between Manhattan and New Jersey almost impossible overnight," said commuter Ashley Dubin.

"That leaves us stranded. Here we are in a town that is right next to NYC. We count on the public transportation," Rafael Mena said.

"I don't understand it. They just got a fare increase," one commuter told WCBS 880's Paul Murnane. "I wonder where the money goes."

"There's a lot of people here that depend on it," Jennaro Villa, of Hoboken, told CBS 2's Ilana Gold.

"One of the reasons I moved to Jersey City was because we have a PATH service," another rider told 1010 WINS' Sonia Rincon.

Rafael Mena, of Hoboken, is one of many concerned about how they would get to work. He takes the PATH daily for his early-morning shift in downtown Manhattan.

"That leaves us stranded here," he said. "We are a town that's right next to New York City. We count on the public transportation.

"I'm lost," Mena added. "I don't know how. Buy a vehicle? I don't know."

Some critics are asking whether the move would leave to overcrowding for other means of transportation.

"Is it better to send more cars through the tunnel, or should we have people using a transit system that already exists?" one commuter said.

The proposal has prompted the mayors of Hoboken and Jersey City, worried about the economic impact, to voice their opposition through social media.

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop released a statement calling it one of the dumbest ideas that's been proposed in the last 6 years.

New Jersey state Sen. Loretta Weinberg said the decision was a "cop-out,'' and Assemblyman John Wisniewski said he's disappointed the reform bill didn't become law.

"I find it very disappointing that both governors together decided to turn their backs on their respective legislators,'' Weinberg said.

The PATH Riders' Council released a statement Monday saying it is strongly opposed to any reduction in service, saying the move would be devastating to the region, which relies on mass transit more than any other in the country.

PATH Train Riders Oppose Proposal To End Overnight Service

"The proposal itself comes at a time when PATH is experiencing record ridership numbers, when jobs and commuting patterns no longer follow the traditional 9-5pm, and when governments throughout the region and country are investing -- not divesting -- in transit," the advisory group said. "The $10M cost reduction -- a tiny portion of the Port Authority's $7.8B budget -- would be devastating for communities on both sides of the Hudson, especially for hard-working New Yorkers and New Jerseyans in industries like construction, healthcare, and hospitality who rely on PATH to come home from an overnight job or commute to a job with an early morning start."

The chairman of the Port Authority told CBS2 cutting train service would only be a last resort.  He said it's one of several cost-saving options up for consideration.

In a joint statement, Christie and Cuomo said, in part, "While neither governor is approving the legislation as passed, they are urging their respective legislatures and the Port Authority to work with them to implement the broad reforms package recommended by the special panel."

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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