Only Early Risers Get Midtown Direct Rail During Summer Work

  • The hitch during Amtrak maintenance is trains arrive by 7 a.m.
  • Mayors who kicked up fuss get some concessions for eight weeks

Some New Jersey Transit morning commuters during the “summer of hell” will be able to head straight to midtown Manhattan -- so long as they relish arriving before 7 a.m.

Beyond that hour, the plan for the Morris-Essex line, the agency’s second-busiest, remains in place for the upcoming eight weeks of maintenance work at New York’s Pennsylvania Station. Riders will be shifted to Hoboken, with their trips extended by as much as 90 minutes a day as they board ferries or Port Authority of New York and New Jersey trains for the final leg.

The schedule change will apply to Morristown, Summit, Maplewood and other towns along the route, where high property values are tied to direct train service to Manhattan. On May 31, local elected officials complained at a legislative hearing in Newark that New Jersey Transit had left them out of planning, and turned them away from headquarters when they tried to discuss alternatives.

“Four M&E trains will now travel directly into New York City,” Maplewood Mayor Vic De Luca posted on Facebook. “All of these trains will arrive in NYC on or before 7 a.m." Additional bus service to New York, from the South Orange station, also will be provided, he wrote.

About 1,800 Morris-Essex daily riders currently are at Penn by 7 a.m., according to Nancy Snyder, a New Jersey Transit spokeswoman. In all, 13,000 Morris-Essex commuters ride during the 7-9 a.m. peak, she said. Adding earlier trains “was always part of the plan,” Snyder said in an email, though it needed clearance from Amtrak.

Amtrak stepped up maintenance at its Penn Station, which it shares with New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Rail Road, after two derailments in March and April. Eight weeks of work in July and August will cause what New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called a “summer of hell” for commuters.

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