From the opening of the system through World War I and the early 1920s the Tubes did well financially, although by the early 20s there was a levelling off in passenger growth and especially in profitability. But by this time plans for expanding the system were over and there began to be financial problems even to the extent of affecting the upgrading of the railroad's rolling stock and facilities.
The opening of the Holland Tunnel between Jersey City and Manhattan for vehicular traffic in 1927 and the 10 year economic depression that began shortly thereafter, were the turning points for the economics of the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad. A long decline in both passengers and in profitability began. The later construction of the Lincoln Tunnel and then of the George Washington Bridge helped further to lead the H&M into bankruptcy which finally occurred in 1954. There was even consideration of either closing the entire uptown section and using the downtown tubes for trolley service or of abandoning the railroad totally.
These financial pressures, however, had also acted to preserve the Tubes in their original form. In the mid-1930s the Pennsylvania Railroad made a major change in its New York service by eliminating the change from steam to electric power at Manhattan Transfer and by rebuilding Newark's Pennsylvania Station. This resulted in a slight change in the far western end of the Tubes' route and the costs were basically paid by the Pennsylvania. Otherwise there was no significant change in the network, the routes, the stations (with the exception of minor cosmetic work, such as at Grove Street) or even equipment. In 1957 the Tubes were still essentially as they had been at their opening.
In the early 1960s there were suggestions that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey ("PA"), which was operating the vehicular tunnels, should also take over and operate the Tubes. The PA resisted this strongly, claiming the bonds it had guaranteed for the vehicular tunnels and bridges would be endangered by a Tubes takeover. The agency became involved in a long lasting but ultimately unsuccessful legal struggle against the takeover. Finally on September 1, 1962 private operations of the Hudson Tubes by the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad Co. ended and service began through the Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation ("PATH"), a subsidiary of the PA.
At first the joint service to Newark (under the name "Joint Service Electric Railroad") was still run with the Pennsylvania Railroad (and later with its successor, Penn Central) but finally the Port Authority took over the joint service completely. (These tickets for the joint H&M / PRR service are from the collection of Joseph D. Korman: first for the service west of Journal Square to Newark Pennsylvania Station and then, below, for the original route to Newark Park Place. The black and white clickable picture from the Wilbur Sherwood Collection shows the Tubes' Park Place Station in Newark with a 43 trolley car arriving from Journal Square.)
Although it was only with the greatest reluctance that the PA had become the owner and operator of the Tubes, it carried out a radical rehabilitation of the network and brought the system up to contemporary standards.
© BKlapouchy 1987-2001