With Pope at Madison Square Garden, will Penn Station be a mess?
NJ Transit is operating a regular Friday schedule to serve both regular commuters and those using the system for the first time to see Pope Francis in New York.
Patience is the key to using NJ Transit on Friday as longer lines will greet riders as trains are expected to be at capacity all day with extra train service on Friday night, officials say.
“We are asking our customers to be patient – and to be prepared – as we expect our rail and bus service to be at or near capacity during the peak periods so wait times may be lengthy," said NJ Transit Executive Director Veronique 'Ronnie' Hakim in anticipation of the papal visit. "Our goal is to have visitors utilize off-peak trains and move as many people as possible in a safe and efficient manner.”
Customer Service Ambassadors are positioned throughout Penn Station along with special signage directing riders in the right direction. About 80,000 are expected in Central Park when the pope rides through late on Friday afternoon to Madison Square Garden, where he'll deliver a Mass on Friday night. The Garden is located right above Penn Station.
New Jersey Traffic North's Bob Williams' advice is to be prepared. "Understand the travel restrictions and above all know your personal limitations. Enjoy this once in a lifetime event but be prepared."
Penn Station will remain open with only two entrances available at the corner of 34th Street and Seventh Avenue and Seventh Ave. at 32nd Street. Streets around Penn Station are closed including 31st and 33rd streets between Seventh and Ninth avenues. Both Seventh and Eighth avenues will have several lanes closed. Some cross streets in the area will also be affected.
Amtrak, which operates and maintains the tracks used by NJ Transit, is ready for any problems that arise.
"We have extra engineering staff on duty to respond to any infrastructure issues, said spokesman Craig Schulz in an email. "We’re coordinating operations with our agency partners up and down the Northeast Corridor and are also pre-positioning equipment in strategic locations to quickly respond to any reports of disabled trains."
NJ Transit suggests some alternate ways in-and-out of New York:
- Traveling to Newark Penn Station and connecting with PATH service to NYC.
- Traveling to Hoboken Terminal and connecting with NY Waterway ferry service or PATH service to NYC.
- Taking NY Waterway ferry service from Port Imperial Ferry Terminal or Lincoln Harbor Ferry Terminal in Weehawken or from 14th Street Ferry Terminal in Hoboken.
- Taking ferry service from Belford/Middletown Ferry Terminal in Monmouth County or terminals at Paulus Hook, Liberty Harbor or Port Liberty in Jersey City.
Here's how you can keep up with all the latest news from New Jersey 101.5 as it happens:
- Keep an eye on our special Pope visit coverage page, which we'll be updating all week with live video, traffic updates, reactions from local leaders and much more.
- Listen to New Jersey 101.5 on your radio dial, or online at NJ1015.com. Mobile users: Download Radiopup to listen any time from your Android or iOS device.
- Follow New Jersey 101.5 on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
- Text TRAFFIC or NEWS to 89000 for traffic and news alerts.
And you can contribute, too! Be extra eyes and ears in the crowd. Is the traffic overwhelming? Is the walk from Camden to Philadelphia going as planned? Let us know by:
Want to share lots and lots of news? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org before Friday with the words "pope visit" in the subject to make arrangements to get in touch throughout the visit.
Dan Alexander is the Digital Operations Specialist for NJ101.5 and Townsquare Media NJ. He can reached via email at email@example.com, on Twitter at DanAlexanderNJ or at 609-359-5358