The unions representing NJ Transit rail workers may postpone their planned strike Sunday morning by 24 hours.

But even a delayed strike would still mean a traffic nightmare Monday morning for the tens of thousands of commuters who would be stranded on congested roadways or at home.

About 100,000 people take the rails into New York every day. NJ Transit’s back-up plan relying on added bus service could accommodate just 40,000 of those commuters.

NJ Transit and the unions representing about 4,200 workers are expected to resume talks Thursday after taking a break Wednesday. On Tuesday evening both sides expressed optimism, saying negotiations seemed encouraging.

Stephen Burkert, chairman of SMART-Transportation Division Local 60, said that seeing the railroad's reaction to their latest counter-proposals at the table Thursday will go a long way to seeing how negotiations will be going forward.

Burkert said health care costs and wage increases still are to be settled but said Tuesday's session featured proposals and counterproposals.

The workers have been without a contract for nearly five years.

At Wednesday's board meeting, New Jersey Transit interim executive director Dennis Martin said the agency has been talking with the unions about how service would be wound down if there's a strike early Sunday morning.

However, a spokesman for a coalition of unions says NJ Transit hasn't shared plans or sought input.

It's assumed trains would have to be gradually taken out of service to avoid passengers being stranded, similar to what NJ Transit did before Superstorm Sandy.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Sign up for the NJ1015.com Newsletter

Get the best of NJ1015.com delivered to your inbox every day.