Survival tips for Day One of NJ's summer of commuting hell

Survival tips for Day One of NJ's summer of commuting hell”

For several hundred thousand commuters on the Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit - as well as Amtrak passengers who ride between Boston and Washington, D.C. - that means fewer trains during peak periods, the result of track closures to accommodate the repairs.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has predicted a "summer of hell" for commuters as scheduled repairs force a partial shutdown of the busiest passenger train hub in the country from July 10 through September 1, or longer if work falls behind schedule. The diversion is expected to add 30 to 45 minutes to commutes. The terminal serves 600,000 riders a day.Deb Wilson, 53, a human resources executive from Montclair, New Jersey, 15 miles west of Penn Station, said she is anxious about the overflow of rerouted commuters in the small Hoboken terminal during the evening commute home from NY. Riders can also expect new ferry routes from Long Island to Manhattan to make room for an extra 2,300 commuters.

"It's going to be mass pandemonium in Hoboken", Wilson said.

Amtrak was pressed into doing the stopgap work between July 10 and September 1 after a pair of derailments in NY exposed major problems. Roughly 600,000 people pass through each day on trains and New York City subways. The rail tunnels under the Hudson River, which connect Manhattan to New Jersey and the rest of the country, are more than 100 years old and were badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

Some commuters are preparing for a "summer of hell", given separate recurring problems with New York's heavily used subway system.

Less-disruptive track work will continue near Penn Station into 2018, Amtrak said.

A massive eight-week track-reconstruction program will affect those who depend on NJ Transit, the LIRR, and Amtrak as riders see a 20 percent reduction in service through September 1.

Both railroads are offering discounted tickets to those most affected by the disruptions, and have devised plans that use alternative forms of transportation.

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