NEWARK — Commuters on the Morris & Essex Lines will have one more option to get into New York when service is restricted for the New York Penn Station rehabilitation project.

NJ Transit announced Friday that buses going directly from the Summit and Maplewood stations to New York Penn Station will be available every half hour between 7 and 9 a.m. on weekdays starting Monday, July 10.

(Amtrak Media)

"The feedback from our customers is vital and is something I am personally committed to," NJ Transit Executive Director Steve Santoro said in a statement.

The idea for the bus service came from riders who Santoro and NJ Transit's customer service ambassadors spoke to over the past several weeks.

"Our customers spoke and we listened to provide as many travel options as possible,” Santoro said.

Customers who use the direct buses will still have to ride a ferry or PATH train back to Hoboken for the afternoon commute.

Amtrak, which operates and maintains Penn Station, begins an intensive project at the 112-year-old station in July and August, and will shut down three tracks at a time to repair and replace aging infrastructure, work that originally was to have been accomplished over two to three years.

The catalyst for the accelerated schedule was a series of significant delays, two caused by train derailments, in the last few months.

Commuters are preparing their own plans for dealing with the altered commute. South Orange Village President Sheena Collum posted a letter for workers to give their employers, explaining their lateness and the need to work from home.

The letter also takes a swipe at the planning process for the work.

"Our commuters, their employers, local officials, state representatives, and even our own congressional delegation were not consulted prior to this announcement, which would have afforded all of us the ability to ask questions and make proactive suggestions. We all know these repairs are necessary as a result of continuous deferred maintenance, but unfortunately the process was severely flawed and our ability to prepare cut very short," Collum wrote.

Essex County Sen. Richard J. Codey and Assembly members John McKeon and Mila Jasey in a statement said they were "pleased and appreciative" at the additional buses. “However, this will not adequately serve the demands of the thousands of commuters in our district. We ask and hope that NJ Transit continues its open line of communication with us and the communities we represent as repairs continue and they remain open to seeking alternatives to ease the difficulties that our residents will face," the Democrats wrote.

Morris & Essex rider Michael Kasdan said he is going to try to work from home one day a week.

"I'm taking a wait-and-see attitude as to what options work best. Fully prepared for misery," Kasdan said.

Kasdan said the "note" was a nice gesture. But I don't think they'll make much difference.

Rider Justin Lew Block said the mayors are "naive" to think working from hom is a viable alternative. "Being in the office matters," he said. "I'll either go to Hoboken and transfer or transfer at Newark Broad Street from the M+E line."

Amtrak continues to prepare for the infrastructure renewal project and has positioned equipment in both New Jersey and New York. In total, 125 feet of track have been renewed and 600 railroad ties replaced on Track 7, and switches have been completely replaced.

Be part of our coverage of the "Summer of Delays" on NJ Transic. Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.

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