As I went down to Hoboken PATH station this morning, someone was broadcasting “move through the turnstiles! PATH is free today!” I thought either the system was broken, or there’s some problem in NJ Transit trains so PATH is taking train riders, as it had happened quite a few times before.

Turns out it’s PATH Centennial.

PATH is by no means a “nice” system, but 100 years is very impressive indeed. It only post-dated NYC subway by less than 4 years, and it sure runs a lot better than the subway–granted, it’s hugely less complicated. Once I was leaving work to catch a train and my subway-dwelling boss was surprised that PATH even has a time table: “I guess it’s not a 100-year-old system”. Now I can throw the line back to him šŸ™‚

The Wikipedia piece on PATH is surprisingly long and informational. A few interesting things:

  • PATH stands for Port Authority Trans-Hudson.
  • The Port Authority only agreed to purchase and maintain the tubes from the bankrupt Hudson & Manhattan Railroad company in return for the rights to build the World Trade Center on the land occupied by H&M’s Hudson Terminal.
  • PATH has 333 cars in its fleet.
  • The cool moving-slide-show ad on the tube wall between WTC and Exchange Place is called Zoetrope. They should do this for every tube wall to literally light up people’s commute.

PATH started using the RFID SmartLink card last year, and it’s clearly the future as it’s a whole lot more convenient, fast, and sustainable than the paper QuickCard. The most frustrating thing about the paper card is that sometimes some turnstiles refuse to read it, so I have to try several times and/or at different turnstiles, which could mean angry people waiting behind me and missing trains. But I can’t use paper TransitChek to refill SmartLink card because there’s no human-stationed booth for SmartLink, and my company doesn’t want to switch to credit-card based commuter card because it costs more. I really hate it when I can’t use superior technology that’s readily available.

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