Bold idea: Merge NJ Transit, LIRR, Metro-North?

- What if New Jersey Transit, Long Island Rail Road, and Metro-North Railroad were all integrated into one massive transit system? Some commuters said that sounds like a great idea. Maybe—but is it realistic?

A nonprofit says the idea is not only possible, it is essential to meet the needs of the growing tristate population. The Regional Plan Association is proposing a new system called T-REX, the Trans-Regional Express, to better connect New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

Rich Barone, RPA's vice president of transportation, said this plan is needed to make sure the New York area can maintain its competitive edge. Among the improvements, RPA's plan calls for are new East River tunnels, a new transit hub at 3rd Avenue and 31st Street, and making commuter rails more accessible to city residents.

The proposed construction would span three decades and cost an estimated $71 billion. But given the challenge of funding current infrastructure projects, like the Gateway project, is T-REX likely to ever happen? Commuters are not so sure.

Barone said RPA's report lays out a vision of where we should go. He said building Gateway should come first, but we shouldn't stop there.

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky told Fox 5 that the plan is "visionary" but that the idea of merging three agencies is not realistic. However, he said the plan includes "really good nuggets" of ideas that people should be willing to try.

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