NJ Transit to resume normal schedule right after Labor Day
NEW YORK — Amtrak announced Thursday the summer rehabilitation project at New York Penn Station will end on time, with normal service returning on the Tuesday after Labor Day.
The eight-week infrastructure renewal project of the 112-year-old facility, which closed off several tracks, went off with few problems during the summer. The work focused on track and switch replacement in the the A interlocking, a key part of track system that routes NJ Transit, LIRR and Amtrak trains in and out of the station.
New Jersey Transit said it would also return to a normal schedule on Sept. 5, which would also mean an end to the combined trains that executive director Steve Santoro said had been necessitated by engineer shortages.
"Leaving customers waiting for trains on the platform or having customers crowded on combined trains is unacceptable," Santoro said.
Santoro said the normal schedule will require fewer crew assignments and bring the end of beach trains. Schedules will be examined as well.
"When you combine schedule and structural changes it means NJ Transit will have a larger pool of engineers available and that is great news," Santoro said.
NJ Transit had six combined trains on the Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast Line on Thursday morning.
The Emergency Operations Center created to put representatives from all modes of transportation plus police, customer service and social media in the same place will remain in the same spot. The employee ambassador program, which was well-received by passengers, will also continue,
Santoro also thanked riders for their "co-operation, their sacrifice and their patience" during the eight-week project, and complimented riders for breaking years-old habits in some cases for the summer schedule.
Spokesman Charles Ingolia reminded customers that PATH and NY Waterway riders will have to pay to use those services with the end of the summer schedule. NY Waterway's 39th St station will also remain in operation.
All NJ Transit fare discounts are expected to end at 3 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 2. Additionally, new weekday rail schedules are expected to take effect Tuesday, Sept. 5.
NJ Transit implemented a summer schedule that affected the Morris & Essex Line the most by temporarily ending most inbound service at Hoboken. Those tickets were cross-honored with NJ Transit buses, PATH trains or New York Waterway ferries to continue the trip into Manhattan. All outbound service started at Hoboken.
“We thank customers for their patience while we renew the infrastructure at New York Penn Station. We also appreciate the collaboration and support of our commuter partners, NJ Transit and the Long Island Rail Road. Our engineering forces are making great progress and we look forward to resuming scheduled operations Sept. 5," Amtrak co-CEO Wick Moorman said in a statement.
Amtrak said its own regular service at Penn Station on Sept. 5 as well.
Rider Barry Grossman, who enjoyed the alternate service on the NY Waterway, said he'll go back to PATH.
"Regular ferry is too expensive," he said.
"I will be happy to see regular service resume, but this is also a test of competency for all parties involved. If there are still constant delays after a whole summer of repairs, I will be very upset. The 'summer of hell' ended up being overblown — I'm more concerned about how operative Penn Station is this fall," rider Justin Lew Block said.
PATH reported a 9.2 per cent increase in ridership in July over the previous year, with most of the increase coming from cross-honoring NJ Transit tickets.
The state Assembly Judiciary Committee and the Senate Legialative Oversight will question Santoro about NJ Transit issues and personnel practices.
David Matthau contributed to this report.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.