Government Maplewood South Orange

First Day of NJ Transit Summer Schedule Not So Hellish, Commuters Say

The first day of the NJ Transit “Summer of Hell” seemed to be, for the most part, relatively uneventful.

According to reports, commuters experienced some delays and confusion as Amtrak track work began, but by and large the day went smoothly.

Events kicked off with a send-off party at the South Orange Train station, and coffee and doughnuts served by local officials and Sen. Richard Codey in Maplewood.

Greg Lembrich offers doughnuts to commuters at Maplewood Train Station.

“Pleased to see that things ran smoother than expected and that my fellow Maplewoodians handled the inconvenience with their usual good humor,” wrote Township Committeeman Greg Lembrich on Facebook. “Hoping for the best as we all get through the next several weeks together.”

In South Orange, Village Pres. Sheena Collum told a reporter from NPR: “We just want to put a smile on the face of our commuters before they enter into two months of inconvenience.”

“We spent a lot of time and effort on the front end making sure Maplewood commuters knew their options for travel,” Mayor Vic DeLuca told Village Green. “It seemed to pay off as the morning commute worked out pretty well. There were a few problems that need to addressed with NJ Transit. We also have to work out some kinks in our evening jitney service.”

Around 16,000 daily riders will be diverted to Hoboken, N.J., where they can transfer to a bus, ferry or the PATH to get to Manhattan. PATH has added extra trains and New York Waterway has added new ferry service from Hoboken to midtown Manhattan.

One South Orange commuter said a conductor on a train from Hoboken announced to commuters that there might be some confusion as things got sorted out, and that NY Waterway employees were helpful and accommodating to passengers.

credit Bernadette Aulestia (Facebook)

Still, for some the trip was more difficult and lengthier than usual. “It’s going to become an almost two-hour commute each way, on top of 10-hour work days,” lamented David Weinstock, a Maplewood resident, in a CNBC report.  Jesse Krakow of South Orange, N.J., who transferred at Hoboken, described being packed “like sardines” on a train that stopped several times between stations as it waited for trains ahead to move, according to a Washington Post article.

Although some speculated that commuters might have opted to telecommute on Monday, New Jersey Transit said about 8,700 passengers — about 1,000 more than were anticipated — rode the trains on its Morris and Essex lines,  according to the New York Times..

Four early morning trains that still go direct to Penn Station saw twice as many riders as usual, NJ Transit said: 3,800, versus normal ridership of 1,900 passengers during that hour.

The Times reported that 204 passengers took the bus from Maplewood to Manhattan; while around 180 people rode enhanced regular bus service from South Orange.

The evening commute seemed relatively smooth, according to a report on  

How was your commute today?

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