Is the commuter ‘Summer of Hell’ being overplayed a little?
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo dubbed the Amtrak repair work at New York's Penn Station the beginning of the "Summer of Hell." He may have slightly overplayed his hand in a bit of melodrama however.
Seems from all reports on the ground at the various points throughout New Jersey, the morning commute truthfully wasn't any different than any other day. Here's the problem: many will be lulled into a false sense of security as the day in the middle of the summer wasn't that bad. Right...it's the middle of summer! Many NJ workers are on vacation, kids are out of school and the roads are at their quietest during the week. Many commuters undoubtedly took the day off, went in super early, or super late or decided to drive instead of take the train. Wait till the end of August. Wait till kids gear up for back to school and families return from vacations. If the project is delayed even a couple days, it could be a rough start to the fall season.
To be clear, even if the repairs are smooth and we never hit the panic level the New York Governor predicted, it doesn't let NJ Transit off the hook. This is one of the most inefficient transportation systems in the country. They spend more than they collect in fares, by a lot — and rely heavily on government subsidies.
There are plenty of examples of well run government transit systems as well as private systems all of which would serve as a model going forward. The DC Metro seems to be able to survive, despite losses in government revenue. How about the Underground in the UK? Then there's the rail system in Hong Kong.
It's time for NJ Transit to take a road trip and learn. It's also time for the next governor to fire people and make changes in the leadership. What we have now is simply not working.