NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Severe and bitter cold took a toll on transit systems around the Tri-State Area Friday, with track trouble leading to extended delays for thousands of commuters at Penn Station.
As CBS2’s Weijia Jiang reported, NJ TRANSIT trains on the Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast, Raritan Valley, and Morris & Essex Lines were subject to delays of a full hour throughout the evening rush and beyond, after ice covered the tracks in the Hudson River Tunnel.
As CBS2’s Matt Kozar reported, the cold shrinks metal – including train tracks. Ice on the tracks makes for dangerous rail travel, and trains must be halted as a precaution.
Thus, Penn Station was packed with frustrated people.
“It’s chaotic,” said Newark resident Hasanah Bush.
“We’ve been trying to get home for the past hour and a half, two hours,” added Quadeei Nelson of Newark.
Nelson and Bush were stuck in a massive group of delayed customers at Penn Station as crews broke up the ice. Sixty-minute delays persisted for about three hours, and even after 9 p.m., trains on the four NJ TRANSIT lines were still delayed 15 to 30 minutes.
“We have two kids that we have to get home to, to Newark, to get to, so it stops everything and now we’re trying to figure out, what’s the best traveling?” Bush said.
Announcements about the delays blasted through the sound system at Penn Station through evening. Still, people were confused, and cellphone video showed many scrambling to find their trains as they fought the crowd.
“The challenge is trying to figure out how to get to the door of my gate when it’s time,” said Jeanne Johnston of Bloomfield, New Jersey.
Many customers ended up sitting on the floor – frustrated to get home after an exhausting few days in the deep freeze.
“Long week; not really excited to be here but you know, I’m trying to rein it in because there’s a lot of pushing and a little frustrated people,” said Tina Greco of Edison.
Also Friday evening, Long Island Rail Road service was suspended for a period of time between Ronkonkoma and Greenport because the winds were so high that they blew snow onto the rails.
The temperature at Newark Liberty International Airport was 1 degree Friday morning, beating a former record low of 5 degrees. The previous record was set in 1936.
In Bridgeport, Connecticut, temperatures are expected to be between 5 degrees above zero to 5 degrees below on Friday. The National Weather Service says a record low temperature of 2 degrees in Bridgeport was set on Feb. 20, 1966.
In New York City, the temperature in Central Park hit a record 2 degrees Friday morning, beating the previous low of 7 set in 1950. The wind chill there hit minus 11.