MILLBURN, NJ - NJ Transit’s “Modified Service Plan” due to track repairs at New York Penn Station, goes into effect on July 10th. This repair work will have a direct and significant impact on the commuters of Millburn Township as all Morris and Essex trains will be diverted to Hoboken. This work is expected to last until September 1, 2017.
Yesterday, Deputy Mayor Jodi Rosenberg, along with other community leaders on the Morris and Essex line, went to NJ Transit’s headquarters in Newark to demand equality in the distribution of this disruption and inconvenience to the citizens of Millburn Township. None of the community leaders were consulted about this disruption and received no prior notification other than the public announcement by Governor Christie on May 23, 2017. Despite the fact that Deputy Mayor Rosenberg was joined by Governor Codey and Assemblyman John McKeon and the Mayors of South Orange, Maplewood, Orange, East Orange and Livingston, NJ Transit refused any meeting with the delegation.
Today, Deputy Mayor Rosenberg is attending a public legislative hearing with the New Jersey Joint Senate Legislative Oversight and Assembly Judiciary Committees where the stakeholders will be permitted to testify on the impact of this disruption to their constituents. She is there to advocate for greater equality in the distribution of these impacts, as the impact does not appear to be spread equally throughout New Jersey Transit’s customers. The Township is demanding clear information and further detail on alternative commuting options available to residents.
Deputy Mayor Rosenberg reported that NJ Transit’s Executive Director, Steven Santoro, acknowledged that he knew there was a delegation waiting in his lobby yesterday but decided today’s hearing was the appropriate forum to publicly address the matter. Senator Loretta Weinberg asked the Committee to issue a letter to NJ Transit’s board demanding an apology for leaving the public officials waiting without being seen. Assemblyman McKeon indicated that the community leaders do not want an apology—they want relief for their constituents.
We will continue to update our residents and commuters as additional information becomes available.
Update from NJ Transit (5/31):
NJ TRANSIT has heard from our customers that their lives have been turned upside down by the almost daily delays resulting from Amtrak’s emergency repair work that is going on at Penn Station New York (PSNY). This is before the continuous summer work that Amtrak will perform in July and August.
Amtrak has acknowledged that it must do extensive and disruptive work to its tracks and infrastructure at PSNY this summer due to years of its neglect. NJ TRANSIT has challenged Amtrak to make the necessary repairs and Amtrak maintains this work must be done now.
Amtrak’s summer repair and renewal work will reduce the number of trains that NJ TRANSIT can send in-and-out-of PSNY, particularly during peak periods. With Amtrak taking out multiple tracks that NJ TRANSIT uses every single day, NJ TRANSIT developed a modified summer rail schedule that will be in effect from July 10ththrough September 1st. The location and extent of Amtrak’s work means that instead of being able to send 21 trains into New York during the busiest hours of the morning rush, NJ TRANSIT will send 15.
Even under these constraints, NJ TRANSIT’s experienced transportation service planners were able to develop a service plan that allows three-quarters of our customers to continue to experience their regular travel pattern into New York. Nearly all customers traveling on the Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast Line, Raritan Valley, Montclair-Boonton, Pascack Valley, Main/Bergen and the Port Jervis Lines will continue their same travel pattern as they do today.
However, there is an impact to having fewer trains per-hour into New York during this two-month period; some of NJ TRANSIT’s customers will move to a two-seat ride into-and out-of Manhattan each weekday.
Recognizing the inconvenience of the affected customers on the Morris & Essex Lines, they will be charge much lower fares – 50 to 63 percent less than the price they usually pay for tickets and passes. To provide the maximum number of travel options, we are also developing a strategic increase to bus service in affected areas; light rail service will be adjusted and NJ TRANSIT will offer free cross-honoring with PATH and the ferries.
Customers will see a robust communication campaign in concert with the release of schedules and travel alternatives the first full week of June through all traditional and social media outlets available to us. NJ TRANSIT employee ambassadors will be out at key terminals including Penn Station, Hoboken, Newark and other locations beginning next month, to answer questions and hand out information to help prepare customers for the continuous Amtrak outages that will impact them this summer.
For the summer, NJ TRANSIT has insisted on having a Joint Station Operations Center at PSNY for better crowd management and customer communication. NJ TRANSIT has also insisted Amtrak have rescue engines crewed and ready to respond if there is a breakdown or disruption this summer, to keep one delayed train from creating a cascade of misery for the customers on many other trains.
NJ TRANSIT also insisted on a number of other steps to benefit New Jersey customers this summer, including:
· That the west end concourse at PSNY be opened for NJ TRANSIT customers.
· That the blanket 10 mph speed restriction now in place near PSNY be lifted prior to July 10.
· That NJ TRANSIT is allowed to perform field inspections of the renewal work.
· That Amtrak provide daily written progress reports.
· And that an NJ TRANSIT representative be involved in day-to-day dispatching decisions.
Longer term, NJ TRANSIT will demand that New Jersey have more input on Amtrak’s priorities for repair and replacement of infrastructure, to ensure that state of good repair efforts – those projects most directly tied to the safe and reliable service, are being advanced where they are needed most, so that NJ TRANSIT’s customers can have safe, reliable service, day in and day out.