By Desirée Taylor
Commuters flocked to the Hoboken PATH station in droves this morning, thrilled to find that the PATH train is finally back up and running again to 33rd Street in Manhattan after being closed for the past seven weeks due to damages from Superstorm Sandy.
“My commute has doubled since it closed so good it’s back,” said Hoboken resident Aaron Boykin. “I was taking the bus, I was taking the ferry, but nothing was consistent.”
Hoboken resident Christina Decesare said she’s excited that PATH service is back. “It’s just great news and the commute can go back to the normal length so it’s really great and spend way less money.”
The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which operates the PATH train, says it’s been a long road to get the service restored here. That’s because Superstorm Sandy devastated the transit system with about $300 million in damages, destroying critical signal and switching systems. Ongoing expedited repairs have led to the restoration of weekday service at all 13 PATH stations from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., including the Hoboken station, which typically serves about 29,000 commuters.
Commuters weren’t the only ones who were affected when service was halted in Hoboken after the storm. Because this is a transit hub, merchants say they depend on commuters to sustain their business, so when they’re not here, that effects the bottom line.
Papaya Dog Restaurant Manager Willie Mayoral estimates business was down 20 to 30 percent. “It really effected us. A lot of people weren’t even in town,” he said.
Business owner Michael Turner agreed. “We were out of office a full six weeks. We just got back in the office last Monday. Our people have been finding alternate routes into the office and now it’s just great,” he said.
Truck vendor Ali Gomah said, “We were really definitely impacted. It was less people, less commuters, less workers on the trains. Now we’re almost back there so hopefully little by little, things will go back to normal,” he said.
There are signs that some business is coming back, which is crucial because it’s the holiday season. But recovery will take time because estimates show Sandy caused about $100 million worth of damages to Hoboken residents and businesses. But not all rail service is back. NJ Transit has limited rail service at Hoboken Terminal. The transit agency says it’s expected to take eight to 10 weeks to resume normal operations and it will be several weeks before PATH service is restored between Hoboken and the World Trade Center. But the Port Authority hopes to have limited 24-hour service in time for New Year’s Eve.