By David Cruz
The return of PATH service to Manhattan this morning helped to ease the pressure somewhat for transit officials trying to move New Jersey commuters around the region for work. But for every step forward, there was one step backwards for New Jersey Transit. First, an accident involving an NJ Transit bus backed up traffic all the way to the Turnpike for hours this morning, and the restored service on the Morris and Essex Line was so packed, service was suspended for a time. Not to mention slippery tracks causing additional delays on top of that. Welcome to the way things are post-Sandy.
“We’re working our best,” said NJ Transit Executive Director Jim Weinstein, as he toured the Hoboken Terminal this morning. “The men and women of the railroad are out there working around the clock to get the service up and going. We’re hopeful and optimistic that additional service, hopefully on the M&E [the Morris & Essex Lines] and also on the Coastline, we hope to have back before not too long.”
The Hoboken Terminal is one of the most important stops in the NJ Transit network. Most of the buses behind me are running into Manhattan. Officials say until this facility becomes fully functional, the quickest way into Manhattan is probably going to be by bus.
“You know, we’re standing in a place that had five feet of water, was covered with mud. These seats were upended. It’s all coming back,” said Weinstein. “We’ve worked really hard to get this facility fully up and operational, but having said that, we’re moving an incredible number of people through here.”
There was still come confusion as commuters struggled to navigate the bifurcated system of trains, buses and ferries. Transit provided buses to the Hoboken Terminal where commuters were able to hop on free ferries into the city, but even that turned into an epic journey for some.
“Usually I go in from Glen Rock to Secaucus and then Secaucus to New York but Secaucus isn’t running right now, so then we thought we were going to come in through Hoboken and then take the PATH to 33rd street and then take the subway from there but now we have to take the light rail and I don’t even know where I’m going,” shrugged Glen Rock resident Heather Wagner as she dodged workmen in the Hoboken Terminal.
For Bayonne resident Mouhamadou Ndiaye, this morning’s commute was closer to normal. “I just took the light rail to Hoboken and the ferry to New York,” he said. “Last week was pretty much a headache. It was like a three-hour commute, every day, Monday to Friday. It’s going to be getting better now.”
NJ Transit says it’ll be several weeks before service is fully restored. There are still structural problems and electrical problems that will complicate your commute and, when your trip to work is turned upside down, several weeks can feel like an eternity.