Commuters got their first taste of the “Summer of Hell” on Monday morning — enduring more crowded trains that are expected to be even more jam-packed for the evening trip home.
“Getting home is what I’m worried about,” said Corey Wright, 38, who commutes from Huntington, Long Island, to Penn Station. “It’s definitely more crowded than usual. Usually half the people get off at Jamaica to transfer to Penn Station. Today when it got in, it was full.”
Speaking from a crowded Jamaica Station in Queens, MTA Chairman Joe Lhota claimed people generally heeded his advice to head out to work earlier than usual to avoid delays due to repairs at Penn Station.
“The morning rush hour is going according to plan,” said Lhota, who slipped onto a train from Jamaica to Atlantic Terminal around 8 a.m. “Some of the buses are filling up, the ferries are working well, and our trains are all on time.”
But he added, “I’m concerned about what happens tonight” and noted that the evening rush is longer and is monitored from 3 to 10 p.m.
There were no delays Monday morning, although riders at Hunters Point in Long Island City and Penn complained about crowded, standing-room-only cars.
“The train was more crowded, a lot of people were standing. People probably left for work earlier anticipating delays and derailments. I wasn’t able to get a seat,” said Kate McMillan, 64, who travels into the city from Plainfield, New Jersey. “I’ve been commuting for 17 years and things were fine prior to the derailment. I wish they would just get it [the repairs] done quickly.”
Transit employees were also out in full force at various hubs to help commuters navigate through unfamiliar stations, where trains are being rerouted for the months-long repairs at the Midtown transit hub, where three trains have derailed this year.
“I get that the train system is all messed up, I understand, but this is how they plan to fix it? Placing people in suits with no answers pointing you left and right all summer?” griped Alex Martin, 35, of Bayonne. “Remember, we pay for this service. The least they can do is tell us a solution instead of placing a Band-Aid [on it].”