ASBURY PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The ongoing repair work at Penn Station and a stuck Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River added up to a rough week for NJ TRANSIT riders.
On Friday, CBS2 was demanding answers from Gov.-elect Phil Murphy about how he plans to help commuters.
What a week it has been for NJ TRANSIT commuters – delay after delay, and standing room only.
Riders are fed up.
“We’re paying so much monthly — $210 a month, and then for this crappy service,” said Sandy Alcivar of Nutley.
“They’re sending trains that are half full and then filling up other ones that are way shorter, and you know, single-deck trains as opposed to double-deck trains,” said Ethan Isaac of Fair Lawn. “It’s been kind of crazy.”
On Friday, Gov.-elect Phil Murphy finally took questions on NJ TRANSIT after declining to address the concerns to CBS2 for several days. So what is his plan for the agency?
“Tomorrow, with (Lt. Gov.-elect) Sheila Oliver, we’re convening in Hoboken – would love to see some of you there at 9:15 in the morning — and then our families are splitting up and taking NJ TRANSIT around the state for the rest of the day,” Murphy said.
They will be testing out the rails on a Saturday. Commuters told Baker that is not the real experience – weekday rush hour is a whole different animal.
“Why Saturday? Saturday’s got nothing to do with it,” said Frank Depaola of Somerville. “He might as well go ride another train system. It’s kind of worthless.”
Depaola takes the train from Somerville – over an hour commute.
“I’m on the Raritan Valley Line. They cancel that train, I’ve got to sit around another hour until the next one comes,” he said. “He has no idea. Murphy has no idea.”
Baker noted to Murphy that a Saturday commute is different from a Monday morning commute, but his answer was unclear.
“I understand it’s not rush hour, but the stories this weekend, it’s not just this week – every week. The last time one of your colleagues asked me this question, it had just happened in Secaucus the night before. It’s a regular pattern,” Murphy said.
Murphy went on to say he will start from scratch and bring in qualified leadership. Amtrak controls Penn Station, and CBS2 asked its spokesman how the agencies can work together better.
“We work hand-in-hand with New Jersey Transit and Long Island Rail Road. We are partners with them, and we will continue to collaborate (with) them as needed,” said Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams.
The second phrase of track work at Penn Station began last week. It is expected to affect LIRR commutes more than NJ TRANSIT. Hopefully, they will fare better than NJ TRANSIT riders did this week.
Besides the track work delays, NJ TRANSIT still has not installed positive train control for safety and may face stiff fines for the delay.