NEWARK — Has the feared "summer of hell," as predicted by NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, turned into the "summer of swell?"

The second morning of schedule changes on the Morris & Essex line because of Amtrak's infrastructure project at  New York Penn Station was characterized as another smooth commute by NJ Transit's Charles Ingoglia,

"We have a well-informed customer base. They're getting off their trains and they're transferring to PATH and ferries," Ingoglia told New Jersey 101.5. He encouraged commuters to take another look at NY Waterway as an option into Manhattan. "They have a little more capacity and are a great ride."

Ridership on the four direct lines into Penn Station on Monday was twice the normal level.

Commuter Barry Grossman, who said he enjoyed the "nice breeze and quick commute" on the ferry on Monday, said it was a bit more crowded on Tuesday morning.

NJ Transit reported 1,269 passengers transferred to the ferry on Monday morning.

Except for a few adjustments such as extra signage in Maplewood and the addition of some double decker cars, NJ Transit said it was staying the course on the plans it set out previously for alternate services during the infrastructure project.

NJ Transit also followed through a promise of adding double decker cars to some of the crowded direct lines. There were complaints from riders other lines that NJ Transit only had single-level cars on Tuesday. Ingoglia said equipment levels for each train "are proportionate to the ridership we anticipate."

Jeffrey Rohrs said the 6:25 a.m. train he took on Tuesday was at full capacity with a double-level car and it got into Penn Station only 7 minutes late. The same train on Monday was a single-level car and was one car short, according to Ingoglia,

The increased ridership has not brought parking problems, according to Ingoglia.

"We were careful not to say 'go here and take a bus' and then have folks go there and not find a place to leave their car," Ingoglia said.

Ingoglia said the most-asked question of NJ Transit's staff at Hoboken Terminal is about where to go once riders get off the train. "Where's PATH? Where's the ferry? Where's the bus? There's a lot of people that don't normally get off in Hoboken," he said.

South Orange commuter Michael Kasdan took a free NJ Transit express bus to the Port Authority that he said was half-filled.

"It threw me for a loop," he said. "I offered my Hoboken monthly pass and the driver said 'nope. Just get on.'"

He said those on board were "surprised and hopeful" at how things are going but "with a tinge of dread."

Amtrak spokesman Mike Tolbert said the work began Friday evening and has proceeded on schedule.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at

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