SECAUCUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — With rail workers threatening to strike next weekend, NJ TRANSIT unveiled its contingency plan Thursday – but said the service won’t be able to get all commuters into New York.
As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, the strike could spell chaos for the 160,000 passengers who ride every day, and for tens of thousands of other commuters who might not even take mass transit.READ MORE: Ghislaine Maxwell's Federal Sex Trafficking Trial Underway In Manhattan Courtroom
Indeed, whether you drive, ride a bus or normally take a train, NJ TRANSIT officials warned all commuters that a potential strike will have a severe impact.
“We will not be able to provide level of service or the capacity that our rail service currently provides to our customers,” said NJ TRANSIT interim executive director Dennis Martin.
NJ TRANSIT interim executive director Dennis Martin said beefed-up bus service, ferry and light rail service will accommodate a maximum of about 40,000 people – 38 percent of daily New York-bound NJ TRANSIT riders. About 105,000 people commute into New York via trains, either on NJ TRANSIT or in combination with PATH.
“Bus and light rail cannot duplicate our rail service,” Martin said.
NJ TRANSIT interim executive director Dennis Martin said beefed-up bus service, ferry and light rail service will accommodate a maximum of about 40,000 people. About 105,000 people commute into New York via trains, either on NJ TRANSIT or in combination with PATH.
Five park-and-ride lots will be opened up to first-come, first-served parking. Buses would leave from MetLife Stadium, the PNC Arts Center, Hamilton train station, Metropark and Ramsey.
In addition to the park-and-rides, 29 existing New York bus routes near rail stations will have enhanced peak service. PATH also is expected to extend peak service rail operations.
Added bus service will run inbound from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and outbound from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., and all tickets will be honored.
Martin said rail tickets and passes will be cross-honored on NY Waterway in Hoboken, North Hoboken, Weehawken and Seastreak into Manhattan.
Rail tickets and passes will also be cross-honored on bus, light rail, private bus and PATH.
NJ TRANSIT estimates that a 65-minute commute from Hamilton, Mercer County, or Morristown to New York City would take well over two hours via bus and PATH train.
But the contingency accommodations notwithstanding, commuters were not looking forward the prospect of reduced service.READ MORE: NYC 'Strongly Recommends' Masks In Public Indoor Spaces, As Omicron Variant Reaches North America
“It’s going to be a problem, because I don’t drive in the city,” said Linda Swedits.
It is predicted the NJ TRANSIT strike will add 10,000 vehicles to the roads. Traffic engineer Sam Schwartz said it would make for monumental traffic jams.
“We’re talking about backups that could be as long as 23 miles that could extend on Route 78, or 25 miles on the Turnpike or on Route 3, 495,” Schwartz said.
“All of you know what the Lincoln Tunnel looks like in the morning or the Holland Tunnel in the morning,” he said. “It is not a pretty picture. Now imagine adding traffic flows of 10,000 more vehicles. That will have a domino effect in the region.”
The uncertainty of a strike has many riders worried.
“When you don’t know whether you’re going to have a way to get to work, it is a concern. A big concern,” said commuter Mary Ann Romano.
“A nightmare,” added commuter Arthur Lolos. “It’s going to be a nightmare.”
Lolos is already negotiating with his boss to telecommute, or work from home.
If a contract deal isn’t reached before March 13, transit workers are threatening to head to the picket lines.
NJ TRANSIT unions have been working without a new contract since 2011 and union leaders are adamant about changes they’d like to see in order for a deal to be reached.
Earlier this week on his “Ask the Governor” radio show, Gov. Chris Christie would not say whether he would take any executive action to avoid a strike, instead deferring to the mediators.
“My job at this point is to let my negotiators negotiate,” he said. “Let them work and let them work the problems out. That’s everybody’s goal. No one’s goal is to have a strike here. Everyone wants to work it out.”
The last NJ TRANSIT strike was in 1983.
Both sides are meeting with the National Mediation Board on Friday in Washington, D.C.MORE NEWS: Blast Leaves Behind Mysterious Crater On Fox Island
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