Last year’s New Jersey Transit “Summer of Hell” — eight weeks of train diversions while Amtrak tracks were being repaired in New York Penn Station — is still fresh in the memories of many commuters along the Morris and Essex Rail Line.
After train riders and local officials, including South Orange Village President Sheena Collum, Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca and others, learned last June that service disruptions would severely impact their towns, they immediately went into action lobbying NJT to get some trains restored, and creating back up plans for impacted commuters.
This summer, however, NJ Transit seems to have hoped cancellations to the M&E line would fly under the radar — but that didn’t happen.
Over the last few weeks, as NJ Transit has cancelled numerous trains to and from Hoboken and New York Penn Station, with little or no advance public notice, commuters have taken to social media and complained to their local leaders — who are not taking it lying down.
“I have learned there have been a series of cancellations to and from Hoboken that have adversely affected our residents,” wrote Collum in a letter dated August 2 to John D. Del Colle, NJT Senior Director of Legislative Relations. “As I communicated during last summer’s challenges, this is not just a matter of convenience but rather, I feel it disproportionately impacts working families – especially as it relates to return schedules and the subsequent impacts that has on reliable childcare.”
Collum noted that several rush hour trains to and from South Orange and Hoboken were cancelled frequently or every day in the past week (see Collum’s full letter below).
But apparently the situation is even worse than Collum originally realized.
“Within an hour of sharing this letter with our residents, it became increasingly apparent that the frequency and impacts of cancellations extend well beyond arrivals and departures to and from Hoboken,” Collum told Village Green. “Over the weekend, I intend on creating a brief survey for our riders to better understand what is happening, reaching out to mayors we have partnered with in the past along the Morris and Essex Line, and sending a letter to Governor Murphy who has made NJ Transit a high priority for his administration. This is completely unacceptable and we will again need “all hands on deck” as we did last year.”
NJ Transit posted the following service alert on its website August 3:
Service Adjustments Required to Advance Positive Train Control (PTC) Equipment Installation are in effect, some weekday trains have been temporarily discontinued or have changes to trip origin or destination impacting customers along the NEC, NJCL, M&E and PVL. Other trains throughout the system will have adjustments to schedules and/or station stops.
Village Green will update this story as more details become available.