NJ Transit delays, road traffic: Survival guide for ‘summer of hell’
NEWARK — After months of derailments, delays and crowded conditions, Amtrak begins an estimated $30-40 million infrastructure renewal project at New York Penn Station.
The project will take what originally had been planned as two years of work and try to finish it all in just eight weeks.
Crews will work 24 hours a day on three tracks at a time at the 112-year-old station, which used by Amtrak, NJ Transit and the Long Island Railroad.
The work involves full replacement of of the tracks and switches known as “A interlocking,” which is a critical mechanism that routs trains that enter Penn Station from the Hudson River tunnels and the LIRR West Side Yard.
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.
What are my best options into New York?
PATH, NJ Transit buses, private bus carriers (Lakeland, DeCamp and Community Coach) and New York Waterway will cross honor NJ Transit tickets between Hoboken and New York.
Driving into New York is another option but you won't be alone in that decision. There will likely he heavier volume on Route 80, Route 78 and the tunnels and bridges.
What else can I do to avoid delays?
Mayors of some of the towns along the Morris & Essex Lines are suggesting people work from home a few days, if they can, to reduce the number of riders.
South Orange Village President Sheena Collum posted a letter for workers to give their employers, explaining their lateness and the need to work from home.
Uber, the ride-share app company, is encouraging commuters to use its uberPOOL service, which matches up to two riders in a vehicle.
"For many commuters, taking Uber to or from the PATH or ferry stations may be the best option to avoid traveling through the bridges and tunnels when crossing the Hudson River," spokesman Craig Ewer said.
Why aren't the other lines affected?
NJ Transit said this plan is the safest and avoids daily delays throughout the system. The railroad can not divert as many trains from the Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast or the Raritan Valley lines to Hoboken.
Why is the work being done?
The catalyst for the accelerated schedule was a series of significant delays, two caused by train derailments, in the last few months.
Among the major incidents since last year:
- Thursday, Sept. 29: A train entering Hoboken Terminal at 20 to 30 mph faster than the posted speed limit slammed into the abutment on Track 5 and crashed through the wall into a waiting area, killing a woman and injuring 100.
- Wednesday, March 15: A day after shutting down the Northeast Corridor in anticipation of a major snow storm, NJ Transit brought back limited service as all tracks and equipment were inspected in accordance with federal regulations.
- Friday, March 23: An NJ Transit train derailed at the platform when it was side-swiped by an Amtrak Acela train. Eleven tracks were taken out of service
- Monday, April 3: The derailment of an NJ Transit train at New York Penn Station led to reduced service with overcrowded trains for most of the week.
- Friday, April 14: 1,200 passengers were stuck on a disabled NJ Transit train stranding thousands at New York Penn Station. The situation was thrown further into chaos when Amtrak police used a Taser to subdue a suspect, creating a stampede out of the station.
- Tuesday, April 25: A fallen wire in the Queens led to major delays on the afternoon commute after NJ Transit announced indefinite delays of 15 minutes weekdays and 30 minutes on weekends.
- Monday, April 24: Amtrak begins track maintenance and inspection which leads to lengthy delays after an issue was discovered in the concrete foundation of Track 7.
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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