[134 NJSuper Page 129] These are consolidated actions which have as their common subject matter the constitutional validity of legislation of this State creating, and later repealing, a covenant between the States of New Jersey and New York and the holders of bonds issued by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (Port Authority).*fn1 The
first legislative act in question, chapter 8 of the Laws of 1962, N.J.S.A. 32:1-35.50 (the 1962 covenant), authorized the Port Authority to construct the World Trade Center and to acquire and operate the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad Company. As part of the 1962 legislation the two States enacted a statutory covenant with each other and with the holders of certain Port Authority bonds whereby the States and the Port Authority were precluded from applying the Authority's revenues and reserves for passenger railroad purposes unless permitted by the criteria set forth in the statute. N.J.S.A. 32:1-35.55.
The 1962 covenant was repealed by chapter 25 of the Laws of 1974.*fn2 The complaint filed by the United States Trust Company challenges the constitutionality of the repeal act of 1974, and the Gaby complaint attacks the validity of the 1962 covenant. We turn, then, to the procedural history of these actions and the issues projected by the respective pleadings.
On May 16, 1972 plaintiff Daniel Gaby filed a class action complaint for a declaratory judgment that the 1962 covenant violated the Federal and State Constitutions. The complaint named as defendants the Port Authority, its commissioners and executive director, and the then Governor of New Jersey, William T. Cahill. On October 25, 1972, on
the motion of the Attorney General of New Jersey, the complaint was dismissed as to former Governor Cahill. The Attorney General also moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to name as an indispensable party the Port Authority's bondholders. No disposition appears to have been made of the motion at that time.
The Gaby complaint alleges, among other things, that the residents of the State of New Jersey are dependent upon mass transit facilities and are adversely affected by the deterioration of such facilities within the District serviced by the Port Authority (the Port District). It is alleged that the Port Authority was created by the Compact of 1921 and consented to by the United States Congress*fn3 to assure "cooperation of the two states in the future development" of transportation facilities within the Port District, and that by virtue of the 1962 covenant, restricting the Port Authority's power to acquire or operate passenger rail transit facilities, the two states entered into a new "Compact" without the consent of Congress and in violation of U.S. Const., Art. 1, § 10. The complaint further alleges that the 1962 covenant constitutes an unconstitutional surrender by the State of its sovereign powers "to protect the health, general welfare and safety of the people," and that it has impaired and obstructed existing facilities for the transportation of goods in interstate commerce, in violation of U.S. Const., Art. 1, § 8.
Gaby asks for multifarious relief. Aside from seeking a declaration as to the unconstitutionality of the 1962 covenant, he asks the court to declare the covenant to be subject to repeal, and to direct the Port Authority to formulate and submit to the court a plan for the development of mass transit facilities within the Port District.
The Gaby action was pretried on February 22, 1973, at which time it was stipulated that the action could proceed
as a class action without formal notice to the class represented by plaintiff. Thereafter both sides moved for summary judgment, and oral argument on the motions was heard on September 26, 1973. At the conclusion of the argument the court directed the parties to submit further briefs on the constitutional issues and on the question whether the bondholders were necessary parties to the Gaby action. Following conferences between counsel and the court, it was agreed the United States Trust Company should be permitted to intervene in the Gaby action as a party defendant to represent the interests of the bondholders in that action. An order to such effect was entered on December 18, 1973, and arguments were rescheduled on the motions for summary judgment.
Prior to the date fixed for the argument the prospects for the adoption of the repeal act became apparent, and further action in the Gaby case was stayed pending future legislative developments.
2. The United States Trust Company Action
The New Jersey Legislature completed action on the repeal act on April 22, 1974, and Governor Brendan T. Byrne signed the bill into law on April 30, 1974. On the same day United States Trust Company (U.S. Trust) filed its complaint on behalf of itself as the holder of Port Authority bonds, as trustee for certain designated issues of Port Authority bonds, and on behalf of all holders of consolidated bonds issued by the Port Authority. The complaint names as defendants the State of New Jersey, Governor Byrne and the Attorney General of New Jersey, and seeks a declaratory judgment that the repeal act violated the Federal and State Constitutions.
U.S. Trust alleges that it is the holder (for its own account and in a fiduciary capacity) of $96,000,000 of consolidated bonds issued by the Port Authority; that the Port Authority was intended, under the terms of the Compact approved by Congress, to be a self-supporting public
agency whose obligations were to be and are payable from its net revenues and certain reserve funds; that the 1962 covenant was enacted to protect the Port Authority's existing and future bondholders from the diversion of pledged revenues and reserves to finance deficit mass transit facilities and further to preserve the Port Authority's credit standing; that the Port Authority notified prospective purchasers of its bonds of the existence of the 1962 covenant and purchasers relied on the covenant in purchasing bonds issued by the Port Authority, and that the secondary market for the Port Authority consolidated bonds has been adversely affected by the repeal act.
The complaint alleges that the repeal act violates the "impairment" and "taking" provisions of the Federal Constitution, U.S. Const., Art. I, § 10 and Amends. V and XIV, and the equivalent provisions of the New Jersey Constitution, N.J. Const. (1947), Art. IV, § VII, par. 3; Art. I, pars. 1 and 20.
The answer filed by defendants asserts several defenses among which the following may be briefly noted: (1) the repeal act constitutes a reasonable exercise of the police power by the State; (2) the 1962 covenant itself violated the Federal Constitution because of lack of congressional consent; (3) the repeal act does not constitute an "impairment" of the contract since the obligation of the Port Authority to pay its bondholders remains intact; (4) the bondholders were on notice of the reserved powers of the State to repeal the 1962 covenant, and (5) the repeal act was adopted as a police power measure to meet a transportation crisis affecting the health, safety and welfare of persons residing within the District. Finally, the answer asserts a counterclaim for a declaratory judgment that the repeal act is constitutional.
A consent order was entered pursuant to R. 4:32-1 in the U.S. Trust action directing that the action be maintained and defended as a class action by U.S. Trust on
behalf of all holders of consolidated bonds of the Port Authority, and that notice to the class be deemed to have been given by means of the media publicity which was disseminated when the action was instituted. On December 10, 1974 the Gaby and U.S. Trust actions were consolidated by order of the court.
The parties to the U.S. Trust action have filed a 366-page stipulation of facts, accompanied by exhibits covering all phases of the case with the exception of two issues: (1) whether the purchasers of consolidated bonds issued by the Port Authority after the adoption of the 1962 covenant relied in fact upon the existence of the covenant, and (2) whether the repeal of the 1962 covenant adversely affected the secondary market for Port Authority bonds. These issues were the subject of a trial on February 4, 5, 6, 7 and 11, 1975, and the court's findings on the issues will be set forth infra.
The Formation, Facilities and Financial Structure of the Port Authority.
1. Formation and Facilities.
In 1917 the States of New Jersey and New York established the New York, New Jersey Port and Harbor Development Commission (the Commission) to study the facilities and problems of the Port of New York and to recommend a plan for the future development of the Port.*fn4 The Commission filed its Report*fn5 on December 16, 1920
setting forth its findings, conclusions and recommendations. The core recommendation of the Commission was the creation by the two states of a common public agency by means of which the states would cooperate in the future development of the facilities of the Port in accordance with the comprehensive plan recommended by the Commission.*fn6 Report at 436. In discussing the legal precedents for the establishment by the States of an agency having a substantial impact on interstate commerce, the report stated:
Permissive or restrictive, as the case may be, the power of Congress over the instrumentalities of interstate traffic is exclusive, when in a specific case it has been exercised. But this latter limitation, coupled with the broad police power of the State and its control of intrastate commerce, has left to New York and New Jersey a broad field within which they may act without express Federal consent. It is hoped, of course, by securing congressional approval of any plan which may be adopted, to avoid future conflict with the Federal authority over interstate unification and control of the Port. But for the present the States may act alone. [ Report at 446]
Prophetically the Commission noted that
[o]ur port problem is primarily a railroad problem. * * * Therefore the comprehensive plan to evolve which this Commission was created is essentially a railroad plan. With the proper network of rail facilities, the development of other terminal facilities can follow along rational lines * * *. A complete reorganization of the railroad system is the most fundamental physical need of the Port of New York. [ Report at 3]
However, the railroad problem upon which the Commission focused was not that of passenger transit but the handling and distribution of freight and cargo into and out of the Port District, and the comprehensive plan recommended by the Commission addressed itself exclusively to the transportation and distribution, not of persons but of freight
and cargo by rail, and to a lesser extent by ship and motor truck. In its 474 pages plus appendices the only significant discussion of passenger traffic in the Report is contained in the section dealing with ferries and vehicular tunnels. After noting that the bulk of interstate passenger traffic was accommodated by the Hudson River ferries and that the impact of the Holland Tunnel (started in 1920) could not be forecast, the Report opined:
Vehicular tunnels offer little promise as a means of conveying passengers, and the one rapid-transit facility in existence between the two States, while operated to near capacity, is not sufficiently profitable to warrant optimism that others will be built. [ Report at 330]
Following the submission of the Commission's Report, the Port of New York Authority*fn7 was created pursuant to an interstate compact, signed April 30, 1921, between the States of New Jersey and New York. N.J.S.A. 32:1-1 et seq. The consent of Congress "to each and every part and article" of the Port Authority Compact was obtained effective August 23, 1921. Pub. Res. No. 17, 67th Cong. 1st Sess. The preamble of the Port Authority Compact states that "a better coordination of the terminal, transportation and other facilities of commerce in, about and through the port of New York, will result in great economies, benefiting the nation, as well as the states of New York and New Jersey," and that "the future development of such terminal, transportation and other facilities of commerce will require the expenditure of large sums of money, and the cordial co-operation of the States of New York and New Jersey in the encouragement of the investment of capital, and in the formulation and execution of the necessary physical plans."
Article I of the Compact contains the agreement and pledge by the two states of their "faithful co-operation in
the future planning and development of the port of New York, holding in high trust for the benefit of the nation the special blessings and natural advantages thereof". Article II defines the Port of New York District, comprising an area of about 1500 square miles in both states within a radius of about 25 miles from the Statue of Liberty. Article III establishes the Port Authority as "a body corporate and politic, having the powers and jurisdiction hereinafter enumerated, and such other and additional powers as shall be conferred upon it by the legislature of either state concurred in by the legislature of the other, or by act or acts of congress." Article VI vests in the Port Authority "full power and authority to purchase, construct, lease and/or operate any terminal or transportation facility within [the Port] district"; to make charges for the use of such facilities, and "to borrow money and secure the same by bonds or by mortgages upon any property" held by the Port Authority. Article VII provides that the Port Authority "shall have such additional powers and duties as may hereafter be delegated to or imposed upon it from time to time by the action of the legislature of either state concurred in by the legislature of the other," and mandates that the Port Authority shall not pledge the credit of either State except with the consent of its legislature. Article XI requires the Port Authority to make plans for the development of the Port District supplementary to or amendatory of any plan theretofore adopted, and Article XII authorizes the Port Authority to "make recommendations to the legislatures of the two states or to the congress of the United States, based upon study and analysis, for the better conduct of the commerce passing in and through the port of New York."
Article XXII of the Compact defines "transportation facility" to include "railroads, steam or electric * * * and every kind of transportation facility now in use or hereafter designed for use for the transportation or carriage of persons
or property", and defines "railroad" as "includ[ing] railways, extensions thereof, tunnels, subways, bridges, elevated structures, tracks, poles, wires, conduits, power houses, substations, lines for the transmission of power, car barns, shops, yards, sidings, turnouts, switches, stations and approaches thereto, cars and motive equipment."
In 1922 the states, with the consent of Congress, adopted a Comprehensive Plan for the development of the Port of New York. N.J.S.A. 32:1-25 et seq.; Pub. Res. No. 66, 67th Cong., 2d Sess. The Comprehensive Plan sets forth the development program initially envisioned by the Commission for implementation by the Port Authority.
In the Plan, like the Report upon which it was based, unification of terminal operations and facilities, consolidation of shipments, adaptation and coordination of existing facilities, improvement of commercial rail, truck and water facilities and other freight handling improvements are set forth as principles to govern the development of the Port Authority. The Comprehensive Plan proposed to establish direct rail freight connections between New Jersey and Manhattan to furnish "the most expeditious, economical and practical transportation of freight especially meat, produce, milk and other commodities comprising the daily needs of the people." N.J.S.A. 32:1-29. Section 8 of the 1922 Comprehensive Plan statute denies to the Authority the power to levy taxes or assessments, and provides that the bonds or other securities issued by the Port Authority shall at all times be free from taxation by either state. N.J.S.A. 32:1-33. Finally, it should be noted that the power was reserved to the states to add to, modify or change any part of the Plan. N.J.S.A. 32:1-26.
Pursuant to the Compact, the Comprehensive Plan and subsequent amendments and supplements thereto, the Port Authority operates all of the interstate vehicular tunnels and bridges in the Port District, which include the Holland
Tunnel,*fn8 the Lincoln Tunnel, the George Washington Bridge, the Bayonne Bridge and the Arthur Kill Bridges. In addition, the Port Authority owns and/or operates the following facilities: Newark International Airport, Teterboro Airport, LaGuardia Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport and two heliports; Port Newark, the Hoboken Port Authority Marine Terminal, the Elizabeth Port Authority Marine Terminal, the Columbia Street Marine Terminal, the Erie Basin Port Authority Marine Terminal and a Mid-Manhattan Consolidated Passenger Ship Terminal; the Port Authority Bus Terminal, the George Washington Bridge Bus Station and the Newark and New York Union Motor Truck Terminals; the Port Authority Trans-Hudson system (operated for the Port Authority through its wholly-owned subsidiary, the Port Authority Trans-Husdon Corporation) and the World Trade Center.
Excluding the 1921 Compact and the 1922 Comprehensive Plan, the Legislatures of New Jersey and New York have adopted 39 separately enacted, concurrent statutes authorizing the construction and financing of the foregoing facilities, the issuance of bonds and notes by the Authority, the regulation of suits against it, and the establishment of a general reserve fund for the payment of the Authority's obligations. None of these 39 statutes received specific Congressional consent.
2. The Financial Structure of the Port Authority
Under the terms of the Compact the power to levy taxes or to pledge the credit of either state was expressly withheld from the Authority. From its inception, with the exception of monies advanced as loans by the states, the Authority was
required to finance its facilities solely with money borrowed from the public and to be repaid out of the revenues derived from its operations. By reason of these financial limitations two concepts initially emerged which have played an important role in the realization of the purposes for which the Authority was created: first, the specific projects undertaken by the Authority should be self-supporting, i.e., the revenues of each should be sufficient to cover its operating expenses and debt service requirements; and second, since the Authority is a public agency over which its creditors have no direct control, the bondholders should be protected by covenants with the Authority and with the states which have ultimate control over its operations.
The first facilities constructed by the Authority were vehicular spans linking Staten Island and New Jersey -- the Arthur Kill Bridges -- which were opened to traffic in 1928. A third Staten Island-New Jersey crossing, the Bayonne Bridge, was placed in operation in 1931. In that same year the George Washington Bridge was opened to traffic. With respect to each of these facilities the Port Authority was authorized to and did issue bonds in separate series to pay for the cost of acquisition of lands and construction. The revenues and tolls from each facility were statutorily pledged as security for the repayment of the series bonds issued in conjunction with the specific facility involved. N.J.S.A. 32:1-39, 62, 86. The States of New Jersey and New York advanced additional moneys to pay for the costs of construction, and the funds so advanced were accorded a subordinated status to the funds raised by the Authority from the sale of its own bonds to the public. N.J.S.A. 32:1-60, 63, 81, 87. The statutory authorizations for each project and its funding were declared to be "a contract or agreement between the two states for the benefit of those lending money to the port authority." N.J.S.A. 32:1-65, 89.
The first bonds issued to the public by the Authority were "closed-end" bonds based on the estimated costs of each facility, and the Authority was prohibited from issuing more
bonds than the amount initially authorized for the project. See Goldberg, A History of the Port of New York Authority Financial Structure (1964), at 3 (hereafter cited as Goldberg). The gross revenues from each bridge were applied first to the payment of expenses of operation and maintenance of the bridge, then to the payment of debt service on its bonds, and the surplus, if any, was to be deposited in a separate reserve fund available only to the bondholders of that series. Goldberg, at 4.
As noted earlier, the initial facilities were not self-sustaining, and in 1930 the states transferred the control, operation and the revenues of the Holland Tunnel to the Port Authority to help place the Port Authority on a self-sustaining basis. N.J.S.A. 32:1-119. Simultaneously, the states enacted legislation, commonly called the General Reserve Fund Act, N.J.S.A. 32:1-142, and by the terms of that act the surplus revenues derived by the Authority from all facilities built with the proceeds of sale of its bonds are pooled so as to create a general reserve fund in an amount equal to 10% of the par value of all bonds issued by the Authority. The act pledges the general reserve fund as security for the payment of interest and principal on all bonds theretofore or thereafter issued by the Authority. Surplus moneys of the Authority in excess of the general reserve fund requirements may be used for any purpose authorized by the states.
The general reserve fund thus becomes available to bondholders to pay the debt service requirements of facilities which were not self-supporting. By this device the surplus revenues of the Holland Tunnel were used to pay the debt service requirements of the Arthur Kill and Bayonne Bridges and the George Washington Bridge. The general reserve fund was also envisioned as a security device to induce the public to invest in future facilities such as the then contemplated Lincoln Tunnel project. See Goldberg, at 7.
Following the enactment of the General Reserve Fund Act the Port Authority issued additional series of bonds to finance the construction of the Inland Terminal Building and to repay
the states for the amounts expended by them to construct the Holland Tunnel. Goldberg, at 5. In 1935 the Authority commenced the issuance of a new series of bonds, known as general and refunding bonds, the proceeds of which were used to refund all of the original bridge bonds issued by the Authority and to finance the initial construction of the Lincoln Tunnel. These bonds were secured by a pledge of the net revenues of all of the Authority's then existing facilities and by the general reserve fund. Under the terms of the resolution authorizing the issuance of general and refunding bonds the Authority also contracted to create a special reserve fund into which would be paid all net revenues in excess of those required to pay the operating expenses of the Authority's facilities, the debt service requirements for the general and refunding bonds, and to maintain the general reserve fund at its prescribed level. Goldberg, at 11. The authorizing resolution imposed limitations on the use of the special reserve fund for the benefit of the bondholders.
In 1947 the Authority commenced the issuance of air terminal and marine terminal bonds, the proceeds of which were used for the acquisition and construction of various airport and marine terminal facilities. These bonds were secured by a pledge of the revenues of the specific facilities financed thereby, as well as by a call upon the general reserve fund to the extent that revenues from the facilities were insufficient to pay operating expenses and debt service requirements. As in the case of the general and refunding bonds, the air and marine terminal bond resolutions provided for their own special reserve funds for the benefit of the bondholders of each of these series.
In 1952 the Commissioners of the Port Authority embarked upon a new scheme for future financing which abandoned the practice of earmarking specific facility revenues as security for its bonds. On October 9, 1952 the Authority adopted the Consolidated Bond Resolution (the CBR), authorizing the issuance of consolidated bonds to serve as the medium for financing its activities in furtherance of any purpose for
which the Authority is authorized to issue bonds secured by a pledge of the general reserve fund.*fn9 Consolidated bonds constitute general obligations of the Authority, and all such bonds are equally and ratably secured by a pledge of the net revenues of all existing facilities and any additional facilities which may be financed in whole or in part by the issuance of consolidated bonds.*fn10
With the adoption of the CBR the "self-supporting" facility concept which had governed earlier authority financing ceased to have the significance previously attached to it; for under the CBR the Authority's financial structure is based on a unitary enterprise concept and all revenues from all facilities are pooled. Individual facilities are not financed independently of the rest of the Authority. The facilities contribute their revenues for debt service on all Authority bonds according to their earning power and without regard to the amount of bonds issued for the construction of any particular facility.
While some facilities may not yield sufficient revenues to pay operating expenses and/or debt service requirements, what is of paramount concern to bondholders under the CBR is whether the total revenues of the Authority are sufficient to satisfy all of its obligations to bondholders. And in order to ensure that the abandonment of the "facility-by-facility" approach would not lead to a dilution of pledged revenues and reserves, the CBR contains covenants with the bondholders with respect to future operations and activities of the Authority and the issuance of bonds secured by a pledge of its revenues and reserves.
One of the principal protections afforded bondholders by the CBR is the so-called "1.3 test" contained in section 3.*fn11 The 1.3 test prohibits the issuance of new consolidated bonds unless the best one-year net revenues of all of the Port Authority's facilities equal or are greater than 1.3 times the prospective debt service for the calendar year during which the debt service of all outstanding and proposed new bonds secured by a pledge of the general reserve fund would be at a maximum.*fn12 The 1.3 test is thus an equation in which one component consists of the Authority's net revenues from all facilities, and the other component is the maximum annual debt service required to be paid on all Authority bonds, including the new bonds to be issued. The maximum annual debt service component is readily calculable from the requirements set forth in the resolutions authorizing the bond issues.
The annual net revenue component of the equation consists of the Authority's historical net revenues from existing facilities*fn13 plus the estimated average annual net revenues of the facility to be acquired or constructed with the issuance
of new bonds.*fn14 While the 1.3 test speaks only of estimated net revenues and not of "deficits," it is evident from the purpose of the 1.3 test as well as Authority practice in arriving at historical net revenues that the estimated average annual deficits of a new facility must be charged against historical revenues in determining whether the 1.3 test has been met. The purpose of the 1.3 test is to protect existing bondholders against dilution of pledged revenues and reserves; if consolidated bonds are issued to acquire or construct a substantial deficit operation whose drain on Authority revenues is not included in the earning's component, the 1.3 test would be meaningless. Further, it is to be noted that in calculating historical net revenues of existing facilities the Authority arrives at one pooled figure which takes into account the deficits of such facilities.
Section 5 of the CBR directs the application of the pledged revenues to the payment of debt service upon all consolidated bonds, with the remaining balance to be paid into the consolidated bond reserve fund except to the extent necessary to be paid into the general reserve fund to maintain it at the level prescribed by statute.
Section 6 of the CBR provides that the payment of debt service upon all consolidated bonds "shall be further secured equally and ratably by the General Reserve Fund." Moneys in the general reserve fund may not be used for any purpose if there are other moneys of the Port Authority available for that purpose, unless there are sufficient funds available to the general reserve fund to pay debt service upon outstanding bonds during the ensuing 24 months, in which event such excess moneys could be used for any purpose permissible under the General Reserve Fund Act, whether or not other moneys were available for that purpose.
Section 7 of the CBR establishes a consolidated bond reserve fund into which all net revenues pledged as security
for consolidated bonds (after payment of debt service on all consolidated bonds and of amounts necessary to bring the general reserve fund to its statutory level) are required to be paid. The moneys in the consolidated bond reserve fund may be used only for the payment of: (a) consolidated bonds at maturity, retirement or redemption; (b) debt service upon outstanding consolidated bonds; (c) the deficit of any facility the net revenues of which were pledged as security for consolidated bonds, and (d) "any other additional purposes for which the Authority is now or may hereafter be authorized by law to expend the revenues of its facilities." The pledge of the net revenues of the Authority and of the moneys in the Consolidated bond reserve fund is subject to the right of the Authority to apply the revenues and the reserve fund as provided in section 7, and the right to issue bonds, other than consolidated bonds, secured by the reserve fund if such other bonds "are issued solely to fulfill obligations to or for the benefit of the holders of consolidated bonds and if such other bonds are also secured by a pledge of the General Reserve Fund."
Since the adoption of the CBR, capital expenditures of the Authority have been financed by the issuance of 41 series of consolidated bonds and short term notes. New facilities and improvements to existing ones have been funded without regard to the individual project's ability to generate income. This has enabled the Port Authority to undertake projects which would not be financially feasible alone but are possible because of the surplus revenues generated by its other facilities.*fn15 New projects undertaken since 1952 include the acquisition and/or construction of two heliports, the Brooklyn, Erie Basin, Elizabeth and Hoboken Marine Terminals, the Port Authority Trans-Hudson
(PATH) System, a bus terminal and the World Trade Center.
With respect to each series of consolidated bonds issued, the Authority adopts an authorizing resolution. Section 7 of each series resolution prohibits the issuance of any additional consolidated bonds or any other bonds to be secured by a pledge of the general reserve fund with respect to any facility or group of facilities as to which the Authority has not previously issued bonds unless
Each consolidated bond states that it "is issued pursuant to and in full conformity with the Compact between the States of New York and New Jersey creating the Authority, and the various statutes of said two States amendatory thereof and supplemental thereto, for purposes provided in said Compact and statutes". No specific statute is mentioned in the bonds.
On December 31, 1970 the Authority placed in trust with the First National City Bank, as trustee, $60,749,000 from the Authority's special reserve fund, air terminal reserve fund and marine terminal reserve fund to secure fully, unconditionally and absolutely the Authority's obligation to provide for the redemption as scheduled and the payment of interest until redemption on the Authority's outstanding
general and refunding bonds, air terminal bonds and marine terminal bonds. After the establishment and during the maintenance of these trusts no further payments are required to be made into such reserve funds. As a result the pledge of Authority revenues and reserves to secure repayment of consolidated bonds is no longer subject to the prior lien in favor of the earlier series of bonds. The maintenance of the reserve funds in trust permits the application of all net revenues and reserves of the Authority to the payment of the consolidated bonds.
As of December 31, 1974 the issued and outstanding consolidated bonds of the Authority totaled $1,668,584,000,*fn16 the general reserve fund contained $173,487,000 and the consolidated bond reserve fund $46,800,000. Gross and net operating revenues for 1974 were $410,412,000 and $156,118,000, respectively. After debt service and sinking fund requirements were met the Authority had available for transfer to its reserve funds $67,018,000, resulting in a net increase in its reserves of $18,293,000 for the year.*fn17
The Legislative History of the 1962 Covenant.
So far as the record reveals, the history of New Jersey's involvement with mass transit begins with the enactment of chapter 104 of the Laws of 1922. The Legislature there established the North Jersey Transit Commission*fn18 to study
and report upon plans for providing a comprehensive scheme of rapid passenger transit*fn19 between northern New Jersey communities and New York City. In its 1925 and 1926 reports this Commission noted both the urgent need for and complexity of a rapid transit plan for the northern New Jersey area which would furnish direct access to the midtown New York City area.
In 1927 the New Jersey Legislature authorized and directed the Port Authority to make plans to provide for rapid passenger transit between the states and within the Port District. Similar legislation was adopted in New York but was vetoed by Governor Alfred E. Smith, who in his veto message noted his unwillingness to have the Port Authority diverted from its principal objective of solving the freight distribution problems within the District. Governor Smith's veto to all intents and purposes ended any legislative effort to involve the Port Authority in an active role in commuter transit for the next 30 years.*fn20
The years between 1928 and 1958 were devoted to largely fruitless efforts by numerous groups, agencies and commissions to devise a solution for mass transit within the metropolitan New York-New Jersey area. No useful purpose would be served in cataloging their failures -- which were not failures of purpose, effort or imagination, but the failure to find the source of funds required to implement any plan. In the meantime the financial position of existing commuter
transit facilities continued to deteriorate. By 1955 the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad had filed a petition for reorganization under the federal bankruptcy laws,*fn21 and the private railroads were petitioning the Interstate Commerce Commission for permission to abandon ferry service across the Hudson and to discontinue various passenger services because of substantial operating deficits.*fn22
In 1958 the Metropolitan Rapid Transit Commission*fn23 issued a report to the states of New Jersey and New York setting forth a proposal for the construction of a trans-Hudson loop commuter transit system at an estimated capital cost of almost $500,000,000. The report noted the need to coordinate and to achieve a balance between highway and rail transportation systems. The Commission pointed out:
That balance does not exist today. The automobile drivers and the bus operators make use of roadways, tunnels, bridges and central area terminals which are tax free and are either publicly maintained or publicly developed out of user taxes and user fees. Private railroad companies must raise the capital (and pay the interest on it) to build their rights-of-way and provide the operating facilities, and must maintain them and pay taxes on them. Since 1930, billions of public dollars have been spent, and are still being spent, by federal, state and local governments in the development of highways, bridges and other facilities for vehicular traffic, but no public funds whatever have been spent during the same period in promoting or improving
mass transportation by rail between the New York and New Jersey portions of the Metropolitan Area.
The imbalance has resulted in a constant and relentless deterioration of suburban rail service. Ferries are being abandoned, train service is reduced, petitions are filed for abandonments, cars are getting older without being replaced. Repeated increases in fares in an effort to match rising costs and to establish earnings which can be used to improve the properties are resisted by public regulatory bodies. The result is more constriction of service by railroads, with consequent further congestion of highway facilities. One very grave consequence has been the creation of a stupendous cycle of traffic congestion in the streets, constantly calling for still further enormous expenditure of public funds for still further vehicular traffic.
Obviously, the people and the governments within this New York-New Jersey Metropolitan area are now face to face with this looming crisis, and can no longer avoid it by conveniently looking the other way.
Capital for the construction of the trans-Hudson loop must be raised by a public agency and bonds issued by it must have some measure of public guarantee to be saleable. Revenue bonds for transit purposes have a bad reputation in the bond market because of the financial history and condition of transit systems. While it would be desirable that the users of the loop would pay through fares the full capital and operating cost all experience conclusively demonstrates otherwise. On the other hand, the public interest requires that the fares be established at a level to foster maximum usage and utility of the system and provisions must be made for possible deficits. In addition, it must be recognized that capital for construction and equipment cannot be secured merely by evidence that revenues will equal costs.
A study which had been prepared for the Commission on the financial structure of the proposed commuter transit system had suggested that "financing would not be available from any of the existing public authorities since this action would in some cases impair the obligations of the authorities' covenants with bondholders and would seriously affect the ability of the authorities to discharge the responsibilities for which they were established." Nevertheless, during the 1958 session of the New Jersey Legislature a bill was introduced (Assembly Bill No. 16) ...