After two months of work at New York Penn Station to fix an aging infrastructure, NJ Transit commuters were back to regular service Tuesday. For many, they’ve had to make other arrangements to get to work – either by ferry, PATH or buses that were put in place to help what was being labeled as “The Summer of Hell.”
“I was happy to get a seat. It was all fine, it was all fine,” said NJ Transit commuter Jean Bedrosian. “It had gotten really bad in the early summer, you would come here and it was just delays, crowds of people. I just couldn’t do that.”
That’s why Bedrosian opted for the bus.
“It added an hour to my commute everyday, so for two months. It was less expensive, but it was it was more difficult. I would say I’m happy the train is back,” she said.
To the surprise of many though, the summer wasn’t as bad as expected. Anas Hashmi, whose commute wasn’t affected, is actually sad it’s over.
“Trains were routed this way and that way, they were routed away from Penn Station, so for us coming in it, was smooth very, very smooth,” he said.
Hashmi added that the “Summer of Hell was better and was a lot nicer than Hell.”
NJ Transit Spokesperson Charles Ingoglia says the key through it all was communication.
“We put out a lot of information about options and choices for substitute travel,” he said. “People paid attention, they did their homework, they knew their travel plans. On the first day of the outage service plan, they went right to work and it was quiet and everything worked out well and it’s come to an end.”
Now, NJ Transit will return to its regular weekday schedule.
“For example, we are no longer cross-honoring. If you’ve come to like taking PATH or the ferry, you would be buying those tickets now directly from those providers. But you can take your regular Midtown Direct train now that’s running again, so a one seat ride to New York is back in service,” said Ingoglia.
After two months of intense work, Amtrak says close to 360 employees worked around the clock to finish the repairs. The work focused on A Interlocking, which is an area where the trains are sorted to go to various tracks and platforms in New York Penn Station. According to Amtrak, six football fields worth of track was installed. All of that is expected to improve reliability.
“This morning if it’s any indication, hopefully it will and we don’t have any problems today, and there’s no reason to think it’s going to be much different,” said Ingoglia.
NJ Transit commuters that NJTV News interviewed hope he’s right because they say they’ve been through the worst, and have the pictures of overcrowded trains to prove it.
“We would miss like three trains sometimes,” said NJ Transit commuter Eric Rhett. “It started out bad and it got better towards the end. It did start out really bad. So, hopefully going into the Fall and Winter there are no delays, there are no issues.”
Amtrak says there is still more work that needs to be done to improve other tracks. The rest of the work is expected to take place this Fall, Winter and into next year. It will get done on the weekend and shouldn’t cause major problems according to Amtrak.
“I hope tomorrow will be just as good,” said Bedrosian with her fingers crossed.