HOBOKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — It was a hectic commute Monday morning for some New Jersey Transit riders.
New schedule changes are in effect as the railroad races to finish installing a new safety system.
Many riders got to Hoboken Terminal not knowing what to expect.
George Adorno showed up for his usual 7 a.m. rush hour train, only to quickly find out there was no train to take.
“It’s not showing up, so this morning I guess I’ll be late to work,” Adorno said.
He was one of the many commuters left scrambling, impacted by the services changes now in effect. From now until mid-January, NJ TRANSITwill operate with 18 fewer trains on multiple branches. There are also altered routes and modified schedules on the Northeast Corridor, the North Jersey Coast Line, the Morristown Line, the Montclair-Boonton Line and the Main and Bergen County lines.
The changes are needed so crews can finish installing the positive train control system (PTC) — the emergency automatic slow-down and breaking system designed to prevent collisions and derailments caused by human error. The federal government has given NJ TRANSIT until the end of the year to get it done.
“For safety, I’m fine with it. If I had to make some schedule adjustments for a few months, I’m fine with that,” commuter John Vetrano said.
But it is an inconvenience.
“The trains already get as crowded as possible, so to think of 18 trains being out of service,” added Debbie Francis of Bloomfield.
To compensate, the agency is giving riders a 10-percent discount on fares for the months of November, December and January.
“I’d rather them keep the money and give me the train,” commuter Jeff Grob said.
Grob and other riders criticized the railroad for waiting until weeks before the deadline to get the safety system in place. He said while having PTC on board trains is reassuring, customers shouldn’t be have to bear the burden for what some have said is NJ TRANSIT’s poor planning.
“They needed to do that a year and a half ago. Too little, too late. But I’m glad they’re doing it because I’d rather be safe than sorry,” Grob said.
Last month, rail officials said they were about two-thirds finished with installing the PTC technology. Gov. Phil Murphy said the agency is on schedule to meet its Dec. 31 deadline, CBS2’s Burrell reported.
In 2016, one person died and more than 100 were injured in an NJ TRANSIT crash at Hoboken Terminal. Experts have said PTC could have prevented the tragedy.
Metro-North crews will also be installing PTC equipment on the Upper Harlem Line starting Wednesday, impacting service between the Wassaic and Southeast stations through October 21.