Cold freezes ferry and train service for NJ commuters
NEWARK — Cold weather had an impact on the Friday morning commute on the rails and the water.
According to a count on NJ Transit's Twitter accounts, at least 11 trains were canceled, including three Northeast Corridor, one North Jersey Coast Line, two Morris and Essex, two Montclair-Boonton, one Raritan Valley, and two Bergen/Main Line trains. Operational issues were blamed in some of the tweets, while no explanation was offered in others.
NJ Transit ran a normal weekday schedule on Friday, the day after a snowstorm dropped up to 18 inches in some parts of the state.
Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said temperatures were in the single digits on Friday morning, with gusty northwest winds making it feel below zero.
Throughout the NJ Transit system, 750 switches need to be heated in order to work properly on the tracks. Winter maintenance is done going into the season on overhead wires, its 12 moveable bridges, and wayside power at storage yards and terminals.
NJ Transit has not yet returned a message about Friday morning's cancellations.
The problems also come as NJ Transit implements an adjusted schedule starting Monday to accommodate another Amtrak project at New York Penn Station.
The deep freeze additionally means commuters have two fewer options into Manhattan, as ice in Sandy Hook Bay froze both Seastreak and New York Waterway boats at their respective terminals.
"It's an act of geography and an act of nature. When the winds come out of the northwest, they push the ice into the Compton Creek. The ice packs up and you can't get the ferries in or out of the ferry terminal which is in Compton Creek," NY Waterway spokesman Patrick Smith said.
Commuters who were unaware of the cancellation were greeted by a locked terminal at New York Waterway's Belford terminal on Friday morning. The company's other service from New Jersey into Manhattan is still running as scheduled, Smith said.
The Seastreak suspended service from both Atlantic Highlands and Highlands on both Thursday and Friday which, according to spokesman Brett Chamberlain, is a rare occurrence.
"It's a unique position where we are geographically in Atlantic Highlands. We're at the opening of the Sandy Hook Bay. The way the wind blows predominantly in the winter is from the northwest, which pushes ice that accumulates throughout the lower New York Harbor toward our position and occasionally it makes it difficult to traverse," Chamberlain said.
He said that they can usually hire tugs to break up the ice, but the recent cold snap has created ice that is difficult to break up.
The Cape May-Lewes Ferry remained closed as well because of the weather.
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