NJ Transit ‘Summer of Hell’ — Some riders on ‘standing-room only’ trains, others fine
Townsquare Media NJ is tracking delays on NJ Transit all morning as a major Penn Station infrastructure project, begins. Check back on WOBM.com often.
HOBOKEN — The so-called "Summer of Hell" got off to a mixed start for NJ Transit riders on Monday morning.
Morris & Essex Line riders bear the biggest brunt of the schedule changes because of the infrastructure renewal project at New York Penn Station, which gets underway on Monday, closing three to five tracks at a time. Commuters will have to take PATH, bus, or NY Waterway ferry to finish the ride into New York from North Jersey.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has dubbed the period the "Summer of Hell" because of the significant delays.
NJ Transit spokesman Charles Ingoglia said commuters can help themselves by being prepared before starting their commute.
"It may not be as bad as everyone thinks. It could be a half-hour delay for some people, it could be longer. It's hard to tell. It depends on how prepared the customer is," Ingoglia said.
Igoglia said because NJ Transit is one of the busiest systems rail systems in the country, problems can "cascade" quickly.
"We're not looking forward to today but we are looking forward to see how well we did preparing," Ingoglia said.
In addition to the anticipated delays, the Northeast Corridor train No. 3712, the 7:39 a.m. from Jersey Avenue, was cancelled due to mechanical problems Monday. Customers were directed to a 7:55 a.m. train instead.
NJ Transit also closed a parking lot at Princeton Junction for sewer work.
There were four early-morning trains running directly into Penn Station on the Morris & Essex line. Rider Jeffrey Rohrs on Twitter said his early-morning train was about 15% full. He told New Jersey 101.5 the train was "woefully empty and would be better served by a later direct in the 7 a.m. hour, as that is the rush."
But Kenny Grossman said his early-morning train from South Orange was a single-decker and was standing room only.
Those Morris & Essex riders will still have to return home through Hoboken as there is no direct afternoon service from Penn Station.
NJ Transit spokeswoman Penny Bassett-Hackett told New Jersey 101.5 that extra cars were added to some of the direct trains but noted that trains cannot be longer than the platform. She also said double-decker cars were being added.
Ingoglia said the best option for riders into New York may be the New York Waterway ferries as large crowds were not expected.
North Jersey Coast Line rider Carl Schellenberger said another problem riders are encountering is with their cell phones. "A lot of cellular bandwidth is being used," Schellenberger said.
Riders throughout the system were seeing a mixed picture by mid-morning:
Summer of Hell: Which NJ Transit lines area affected?
The Morris & Essex Lines are by far the most affected, with inbound service ending at Hoboken Terminal.
There will be four inbound trains before 7 a.m. that will go to New York Penn Station.
NJ Transit will also run buses every half hour between 7 and 9 a.m. from Summit and Maplewood. An express bus will run from South Orange Station into New York Penn Station.
There is no direct rail service during the afternoon commute from Penn Station. All riders will have to depart from Hoboken Terminal.
NJ Transit will also offer deep discounts on the Morris & Essex Lines.
North Jersey Coast Line service will end at Newark Penn Station. Customers can utilize rail service to Secaucus and transfer to Hoboken-bound trains. Hoboken tickets will be honored at Secaucus. See gate agent upon arrival.
David Matthau contributed to this report.
Share your “Summer of Delays” experience with WOBM and join our commuter panel. Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.