NJ Transit’s ‘Summer of Hell’ — What to expect Monday afternoon
HOBOKEN — Will the afternoon go smoothly for NJ Transit riders after a relatively smooth start to the so-called "summer of Hell?"
The biggest difference between the morning commute and the afternoon one is that all Morris & Essex rail riders will have to go through Hoboken on the afternoon trip home, as Amtrak shuts down between three and five tracks for its $30 to 40 million infrastructure renewal project at New York Penn Station.
"Those who took the special bus into the city and the very early trains should not count on that ride home and will have to use PATH, bus or (NY Waterway) ferry to get to Hoboken. Allow some extra time," NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder said.
Jeffrey Rohrs woke up early to take one of four early Midtown Direct trains that went to all the way into New York from South Orange. He won't have a direct route back home.
"We'll see how PATH/Hoboken works for me tonight," Rohrs said.
The railroad has not announced any changes Monday to its afternoon plan, which includes yellow-vested customer ambassadors at Hoboken Terminal available to answer questions.
"Our customers seem to of done their homework, made their choices quickly and went about their business," NJ Transit spokesman Charles Ingoglia said. He was encouraged by the 800 customers that transferred to NY Waterway ferries.
NJ Transit did tweet about using its passenger assistance phones for help with cross-honoring when PATH agents are not available.
Kevin and Karen Mirkle of West Orange were pleasantly surprised by how easy their inbound trip went on Monday.
“Today was actually fine,” he said. He wife added “it’s like a 7 out of 10 or an 8 out of 10.”
Kevin Mirkle said “there was no coffee at the station, so I couldn’t get my morning off to the right track.” Karen said “that was the biggest complaint,” as she chuckled.
"I think NJ Transit was pretty well-prepared for this situation. As long as nothing unexpected happens, like another train derailment or power outage, then commuting should be fine," Liam Blank, co-founder of the New Jersey Commuter Action Netowkr, told New Jersey 101.5.
But not everybody was happy.
Matt Anders from Morris Plains said the Amtrak work meant “extra time, extra headache on the way in, nothing you need when you’re already taking a 6 a.m. train, and getting home is not going to be any easier.”
He added “they don’t do the repairs when they need to do it. They kick the can down the road and then you have a situation like this when they finally get forced to do something.”
When asked whether NJ Transit was being helpful, he said “they don’t care, they just do what they have to do. It’s not great.”
Another commuter, Roy Jones from Chester said “it’s been a hassle because now I have to stop here and take a different train, so yeah, it hasn’t been pleasant.”
David Matthau contributed to this report.
Share your “Summer of Delays” experience with New Jersey 101.5 and join our commuter panel. Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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