LIRR, NJ TRANSIT Commuters Face Second Day Of Penn Station Repairs

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Commuters on Tuesday faced day two of service changes after handling the first day of extensive repair work at Penn Station without any major issues.

As CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported, there were no reports of major issues as the evening commute was kicking into high gear Tuesday afternoon. But was it because backup plans are working as they should, or because of something else?

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Amtrak chief executive officer Charles “Wick” Mooran said people may have bene on vacation Monday.

“We’ve got another week right at the end of a holiday week,” he said. “We’ll have to see what happens tomorrow and what the passenger count does next week.”

NJ TRANSIT also pointed out that not everyone who could have traveled on Monday did so.

The Long Island Rail Road had 8 percent fewer riders into Penn Station on Monday, but they did see an increase in those using the Atlantic Terminal and Hunterspoint Avenue stations.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joe Lhota said Long Islanders did not really use the ferries and buses.

CBS2’s Gainer asked commuters about their experiences so far.

“I was anticipating a lot more people around — very pleasantly surprised,” one man said.

“Yesterday, no problems… (but) today, a little bit better,” another man said.

“It was smooth for the last two days, but you know, there’s going to be problems,” a third man said.

Earlier in the day, hundreds of thousands of LIRR and NJ TRANSIT commuters dealt with some confusion, a bit of overcrowding and some delays at the start of what figures to be an arduous two-month period.

NJ TRANSIT spokesman Charles Ingoglia declared the Monday morning commute a success, but said there was room for improvement, including directing people to a less crowded PATH entrance.

“We’re pleased with the results so far and we’re pleased that our commuters have really adapted to it flawlessly,” said Ingoglia.

NJ TRANSIT Morris and Essex line commuters packed into Hoboken. Despite adding additional PATH trains to Manhattan, some couldn’t spare any room for people who wanted to get on board, the doors barely closing.

As far as the LIRR is concerned, Lhota also called Monday’s commute a success.

“When it works, it works really well and this morning it worked really well,” Lhota said Monday.

Data showed most LIRR customers opted for the train, with 10,000 making transfers at Atlantic Terminal and Hunterspoint Avenue.

“Buses were not used as much as we thought, ferries were not used as much as we thought and we have to see what Long Islanders prefer and we’ll adjust accordingly,” Lhota said.

While some seem bewildered by a new routine, others said the commute wasn’t much different than normal and the transit agencies were exhaling.

“I expected it to be much, much worse,” one woman said. “Frankly, its hard for me to commute anyways, but it seemed to be fine.”

“It’s good, it’s not hell yet,” one man told 1010 WINS’ John Montone.

But not everyone agreed.

“This is hell,” said Hoboken commuter Judi Eskenazi. “It’s pretty bad over here.”

The work now in progress was initially scheduled for nights and weekends over a few years, but two recent derailments and other problems that spotlighted the station’s aging infrastructure convinced Amtrak to accelerate the schedule.

Transit officials are cautiously optimistic that smooth commuting will continue for the next eight weeks.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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