Management of NYPS repairs

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Management of NYPS repairs
Posted by blue streak 1 on Saturday, July 08, 2017 10:35 PM

The summer of major work starts Monday however probably much is already in progress this weekend ?

Wick Moorman has stated that the NYPS repair work is the most difficult piece of work he has ever seen.  Here is link to short interview with him on CBS Friday morning.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/amtrak-penn-station-new-york-renovations-mta-summer-of-hell/

Just how much hands on management he will have to do we will leave for others to ascertain.  May be reason Anderson is coming on early to cover other Amtrak concerns ?

The few pictures we have already seen of preliminary work seems to indicate a lot of very specialized equipment. Any information on where spare equipment is being staged in case of a major failure of track equipment ?

https://media.amtrak.com/2017/06/infrastructure-renewal-advances-new-york-penn-station/

Can we expect that spare parts for all this equipment will be available and of the highest priority to keep the project from being delayed ?

Management of the work will probably take a lot of event managers to keep work on schedule ?.  With a 24 / 7 work schedule keeping everyone alert will be a full time job for several supervisors alone.

The installed equipment of NYPS is old and much exists from the PRR era.  Does Amtrak have aircraft standing by to ferry any legacy parts if they are found to be needed ?  It appears that logistics will be one leg of the stool to complete this projece. Other legs will be the complex planning needed..

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Monday, July 10, 2017 9:01 PM

WSJ has open article showing a bunch of pictures. 

http://www.wsj.com/livecoverage/new-york-penn-station-partial-shutdown

Another article had LIRR passenger complaining that her LIRR train was 3 minutes early making her over 1/2 hour early to work !

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, July 10, 2017 9:30 PM

blue streak 1
WSJ has open article showing a bunch of pictures. 

http://www.wsj.com/livecoverage/new-york-penn-station-partial-shutdown

Another article had LIRR passenger complaining that her LIRR train was 3 minutes early making her over 1/2 hour early to work !

Oh poor dear!  How will she ever survive being early to work? SoapBox

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Saturday, July 15, 2017 7:58 PM

Progress report from Amtrak.  1st week they are on schedule so far.  Management must be doing a good job ?  Remember Amtrak also has the Baltimore station track renewal going on this weekend as well as track work at BWI and the New Haven - Springfield double tracking all at the same time !

 

https://www.amtrak.com/ccurl/666/333/Infrastructure-Renewal-Weekly-Progress-Report-071417.pdf

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 9:11 AM
Just in case you wanted to see an Amtrak train listed on the Hudson Line Departure Board, here it is.
 
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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 9:17 AM

However, there is no ticket office for Amtrak at GCT.  Possibly Metro-North is selling the tickets for these trains?  Also, Randy reports that as yet there are not up-to-date Amtrak timetables in the racks, only out-of-date ones.

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 11:39 AM

daveklepper
Just in case you wanted to see an Amtrak train listed on the Hudson Line Departure Board, here it is.
 

Nothing seen!

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 1:37 PM

[quote user="BaltACD"]

 

 
daveklepper
Just in case you wanted to see an Amtrak train listed on the Hudson Line Departure Board, here it is.
 

 

Nothing seen!

 

[/quote above]

Is this true for everyone?  Shows up on the quote as well for me.

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Posted by Deggesty on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 1:40 PM

I do not see that which Dave wanted us to see.

Johnny

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Thursday, July 20, 2017 12:43 AM

Just speculation.  MARC announced Amtrak had cancelled for this week the work around BWI.  Could it be those workers are being sent to NYPS to keep the work on schedule ?

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, July 20, 2017 2:33 AM

Trying to repost via Imgur.  See if this works and let me know:

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Posted by Deggesty on Thursday, July 20, 2017 7:54 AM

daveklepper

Trying to repost via Imgur.  See if this works and let me know:

 

Dave, that's a beautiful picture! Success!

Johnny

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, July 20, 2017 8:48 AM

blue streak 1
Just speculation.  MARC announced Amtrak had cancelled for this week the work around BWI.  Could it be those workers are being sent to NYPS to keep the work on schedule ?

I suspect Amtrak's cancellation of the BWI work may have more to do with the 90+ weather that is forecast for the local area - disturbing track structure during periods of high heat can create any number of problems.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Sunday, July 23, 2017 6:01 AM

Progress report for week jul 21st .;.

https://www.amtrak.com/ccurl/438/236/Infrastructure-Renewal-Weekly-Progress-Report-072117.pdf

MARC also announced cancelled track work around BWI.

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, July 23, 2017 1:58 PM
"We set up the operation so that we only turn trains that have no food service and that can go right back out. All of the former commissary facilities are non-existent anymore as well as the storage tracks we used to use have long been taken over by layover commuter sets. We modified 3 dual modes to run on the Sprague 3rd rail by flipping the shoes over and fabricating a bracket to get the shoes to the right height. We had talked to the vendor that made the Metro North brackets and they wanted $200K with a 22 month lead time! Glad to see we still have some ingenuity left.
 
We put the dual modes on the south end and we modified 3 P42’s to operate on the north end of the 3 sets of equipment where we took the slow speed backing switch out and put a mode change switch in instead so we’re really using the P42 as a cab car (not enough cab cars or dual modes to go around). We’re not actually looping anything but the one set in the morning I think we’re running onto the loop to get it out of the way before it turns and goes north. Those locos can run around the loop tracks. I personally took an Amtrak P40 (under diesel power) around the loop back in 2012. It was tight but there were no problems. As far as clearances in GCT, they are actually more generous than what we have to deal with in Penn Station with both 3rd rail and catenary.
It’s not a bad deal going there as long as we don’t have to stand up a whole mechanical or food service operation which quickly changes the financials on the operation. Also, we need to be aware of the connecting business that we’ve grown thru the years to the rest of the Amtrak network. We do get a bunch and just like the New Haven which had trains to both Penn and GCT, it may not be bad if you can give your passengers choices.
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Posted by blue streak 1 on Friday, July 28, 2017 12:00 PM

Weekly progress report July 28th.  From this report appears Amtrak is slightly ahead of schedule.

https://www.amtrak.com/ccurl/125/980/Infrastructure-Renewal-Weekly-Progress-Report-072817.pdf

 

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Tuesday, August 01, 2017 3:25 AM

Appears that a new FRA rule is causing MOW worker clearance problems.  Just one more headache ! 

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/07/27/2017-15791/petition-for-waiver-of-compliance

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, August 06, 2017 8:09 AM

Jack May reports:

NOTES ON TRAVEL BETWEEN NEW JERSEY AND NEW YORK ON THE FIRST DAY OF REDUCED RAIL SERVICE TO PENN STATION

By Jack May

 
Monday, July 10 was the first day of the much publicized beginning of an all-out Amtrak program to repair the ladder of tracks leading from the tunnels under the Hudson River from New Jersey into Pennsylvania Station, New York.  Plagued by a series of derailments, it was “discovered” that the tracks and trackbeds had deteriorated to an unsafe condition over many years of extensive usage and an irresponsible failure to maintain them in an effective manner. 
The purpose of this report is not to discuss reasons for these conditions, suggestions for improvements, nor to assess blame, but to relate my experiences in monitoring the first day of what the media vicariously labeled as “chaos,” “Summer of Hell,” “train pain” and other exploitive and self-serving terms.
Actually, when the political decision was made to “fix the tracks” as soon as possible, the stakeholders of Penn Station, Amtrak, the Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit, determined that it would take 8 weeks to effectuate the repairs, if they were performed on a 24-hours-per day, 7-days-per-week basis.  With ridership usually lower during the summer due to vacations, the period from July 10 to September 1 was chosen.  With important crossovers to be taken out of service during the period, eliminating the accessibility of various tracks and platforms on a rotating basis, the number of trains using the station would have to be reduced, particularly during rush hours, when traffic is greatest.  To share the trauma, each operator would create new timetables, cutting out a number of trains, mostly between 7 and 10 in the morning, and 4 to 7 in the evening.
Each organization did just that for the upcoming period of turmoil, with the LIRR cutting its Penn Station schedules by some 20 percent, Amtrak discontinuing or cutting back a number of Northeast Corridor and Keystone regional trains, including rerouting three New York-Albany Empire Service round trips from Penn Station to Grand Central Terminal, and New Jersey Transit substantially reducing the number of trains arriving and leaving from New York.
Spoiler:  In summary, things are working out quite well, with most passengers unaffected, and those that are, able to find alternative ways of getting to their destination with a minimal amount of disruption, helped by the careful planning and effective communications by the agencies involved.  The work in preparing this was quite complex and while I have attempted to describe its elements in some detail, this treatise has grown into a very long, and possibly tedious, document, so this is a warning that it may well be more than most readers would ever want to know about the subject.  That said, despite its length, this report is far from a comprehensive look at the changes that went into effect on July 10.
Living in Montclair, New Jersey, I was mainly concerned with the trans-Hudson portion of the new schedules and so I will go into greater detail regarding how NJ Transit would deal with the situation.  From a logistical standpoint, NJ Transit accomplished the reduction of rail traffic into Penn Station by shifting all but a few trains (four very early morning departures) of its busy Morris & Essex (M&E) line to Hoboken, in effect discontinuing M&E “Midtown Direct” service for the duration.  Midtown Direct, also called the Kearny Connection, was instituted in 1996 after former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western rails to Hoboken were connected to the former Pennsylvania Railroad’s high-line to Penn Station, New York.  Passengers along the lines at large suburban and exurban towns and villages such as South Orange, Maplewood, Millburn, Summit, Morristown, Gladstone and Dover gained one-seat rides into the heart of Manhattan.  Except for those headed to the financial district and some points along PATH’s (the former Hudson Tubes) rapid transit lines, this became the preferred route to New York City for people originating in Morris and Essex Counties (plus small parts of Union, Somerset and Sussex), replacing the ordeal of transferring at Hoboken to PATH or buses to midtown Manhattan.
To make the necessary reduction in rail service to Penn Station equitable, the inconvenience and disruption created for passengers of the M&E had to me remediated.  Thus NJ Transit substantially reduced fares from those points (including Newark Broad Street) to Hoboken and worked with PATH and New York Waterway to institute free passage over their lines crossing the Hudson to New York City.  PATH frequencies would be increased and Waterway would create a new rush hour route between Hoboken and its midtown Manhattan terminal at West 39th Street, from which it operates a free bus shuttle service along several crosstown streets to distribute and collect its passengers.  In addition to its Hoboken tickets being honored by these organizations, NJ Transit also included its route 126 bus between Hoboken and the Port Authority Bus Terminal (PABT) and the Hudson-Bergen light rail transit system in what it calls “cross-honoring” of tickets.  To offer further alternatives to its passengers NJ Transit also set up dedicated bus service from its busier stations to the PABT I wonder how well they are being patronized).  While fares to Hoboken were slashed, the New York Penn Station fares were unchanged.
In my opinion it was a carefully planned and well thought out scheme, and I felt that the much of the media’s dire warnings were probably irresponsible scare tactics to dramatize their inherent conceit (and to increase newspaper sales and local station TV viewing as well).  But you know the saying about the best-laid plans of mice and men . . . 
Not all of Midtown Direct service would be rerouted, as the schedules for the Montclair-Boonton line, which I use, would be modified only slightly.  (Midtown Direct service to Penn Station was expanded to include the towns of Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Montclair and a part of Little Falls after the Montclair Connection--between the Montclair branch of the former DL&W and the Greenwood Lake-Boonton line of the former Erie Railroad was completed in 2002.)  In addition, cross-honoring with De Camp bus lines, which offers express motor coach service from the area to the PABT, was also instituted.  However, with a full schedule of trains continuing to operate to New York, the fares to Hoboken would not be reduced on my line.
The new tariff was to be installed into NJT’s ticket vending machines on Sunday, July 9, so late that afternoon I went to my station, Watchung Avenue, to see whether it was accomplished--and to buy two Senior Citizen tickets from Watchung Avenue to Newark Broad Street and two from Newark to Hoboken (one-way tickets are good in either direction).  I did that because the one-way fare to Hoboken is $2.45, while the sum of the two separate ones I bought is only $1.85 (1.05 plus the reduced $.80):  $1.20 saved is $1.20 earned.  The temporary reduced fare tickets to Hoboken are endorsed: “EXP: 09/01/2017,” no doubt to avoid such tickets being bought in bulk and then used after the fares are returned to normal.
On Monday morning July 10, which also happened to be my 80th birthday, I overslept and had to hurry to get to Watchung Avenue on time for train 208, the 7:19 local from Montclair State University to Hoboken.  It was good that I had bought my tickets on the previous afternoon, as not having to stop at a vending machine just barely gave me the additional leeway to allow me to walk the 10 minutes instead of having to be driven.  The platform was not crowded, as an express train from Lake Hopatcong stops there at 7:08.  My train consisted of 3 Arrow III eMU cars and I found a window seat on the right side of the middle car, the ‘two’ side of the MU’s reversible 3-and-2 seating.  As we proceeded and stopped at each station large numbers of additional passengers boarded.  The station platforms were not cleared however, as a Midtown Direct local to Penn Station is scheduled 9 minutes behind our train, and passengers were gathering for what is the heaviest train on the line, scheduled to arrive in New York at 8:20 and usually made up of 10 multi-level cars with an electric ALP-46 locomotive pulling or pushing.
By Bloomfield all the seats in my car, including the “dreaded” center ones on the 3-side, were occupied and there were some standees; after the last station before Newark, Watsessing Avenue (also located in the town of Bloomfield), my car was packed with standees.  I do not know if this train usually runs with only three Arrows, or whether assignments were changed because of the timetable change, but clearly it needs four cars.  
One of my Watchung Avenue-to-Newark tickets was collected upon leaving that station and the crew man placed a seat check on the seat back in front of me.  He partially tore it to indicate I was not a through passenger to Hoboken, but rather would be getting off at Newark.  All other passengers’ seat checks were pristine.  I thought that was an excellent example of revenue protection, as when the NJT ticket collectors went through the train right before Newark, my torn check would be removed, which meant that after Newark they could see which riders to single out for ticket inspection or collection--those who boarded there.  Perfect--right out of the manual.  But that is not what happened.  During the long stretch between Watsessing and Newark (a half century ago there were two additional stops:  Ampere and Roseville Avenue) ALL seat checks were collected, both those that indicated Hoboken as well as Newark.  The crew never went through the train again after Newark, thereby missing my Newark-Hoboken ticket and those of all the passengers boarding there.  I suspect this might be “standard operating practice” for this train and may cost NJ Transit a substantial amount of revenue, as passengers who regularly board at Newark can keep one ticket on their persons until the day a different crewman comes around and collects it.
For one-way ticket holders, the requirement that tickets be shown to PATH, Waterway and bus personnel would seem to have created a case for NJT crews to punch such tickets and return them to the rider, but I did not see that happening on this Montclair train (and certainly not east of Newark). Perhaps it was being done on the other lines to Hoboken, the M&E of course, and the ones from Bergen County via Secaucus.  According to NJ Transit literature, Hoboken tickets from ALL its lines were being honored for continued travel to New York City.  But it seems that a substantial number of riders, if not a majority in peak periods, are now using tickets recorded on their smartphones, many more than I thought.  The days of hard-copy forms may be coming to an end--perhaps it will happen at the same time as we regularly see driverless automobiles.
Operation of train 208 had been on time at each station until we came to a halt in the vicinity of Newark Broad Street.  Clearly another Hoboken-bound train was ahead of us, and we had to wait until it cleared the platform.  We arrived Newark at 7:42, only 3 minutes late.  More people left the train here than boarded, but there were still a number of standees in my car as we moved on toward Hoboken.  We traveled slowly for a while, then gathered speed, but crawled after the Bergen tunnels, as new safety regulations calling for 5 mph speeds had been promulgated after a fatal accident in Hoboken last September.
Our arrival on track 17 (the furthest one from PATH, but the closest to the Hudson-Bergen light rail line) was at 8:00, five minutes late, totally acceptable to me under the circumstances.  Rather than pulling up to the bumper block we parked behind other Arrow MU cars and therefore the passengers had to walk a greater distance before reaching the main concourse.  The doors between the first and center car were not opened, forcing me to walk back to the doors between my car and the last one.  When I passed the lead car, I saw that the cab door was open, allowing passengers from the front car to detrain through the operator’s area.  I suspect the failure to open the doors between the first and second cars is a result of new NJT safety rules that call for two men in the cab when approaching the terminal.
Anyway, now it was time to get down to business.  I first stopped at the Customer Service Office and picked up a number of brochures created by NJ Transit to inform its customers of their options during the eight-week summer period that was just beginning.  I saw six different varieties, ranging from a letter to NJ Transit customers from Executive Director Steve Santoro; a multi-page 8 ½ x 11 “FAQ and Information – Hoboken Terminal” guide to the facilities at the entire complex (including the bus terminal); and explanations of the reduced fares to New York via Hoboken with specific prices and diagrams of the available routes; to glossy, bilingual multi-color brochures showing travel options from way stations along the M&E.  You can’t say NJ Transit did not try to communicate.  There was also a New York Waterway brochure for its “Special” ferry service to West 39th Street, outlining the hours of ferry operation and its 15-minute frequency in both directions.  It also contained an excellent diagram of the routes of the connecting bus shuttles in Manhattan.  I noticed one inconsistency with NJ Transit information though, NJT indicating that free ferry travel to West 39th Street is only allowed in the predominant rush hour direction (to Manhattan in the morning and from Manhattan in the evening) while the NYW one implied no such limitation.
The terminal did not look terribly crowded and it seemed that all of the commuters pouring out of NJ Transit trains knew what they were doing (I didn’t perceive any confusion) and were proceeding to the underground PATH station or the Waterway ferry slips.  I was not surprised.  Before Midtown Direct was instituted all New York-bound M&E rail passengers travelled via Hoboken.  Although a new generation now existed who were not riding in those days, and who regularly traveled to Penn Station, New York as a matter of habit, they too should have been familiar with Hoboken and PATH, as their suburban trains were regularly rerouted to the waterfront whenever there were problems with accessing Penn Station, which in the previous year, were legion and frequent.  So I couldn’t imagine they would not know how to get to Manhattan under the new timetable.
In walking to the main PATH entrance I came upon many members of NJ Transit’s upper and middle management who were observing the activities and were prepared to help out if such a need arose, as well as being available for the press and looking for ways to improve the operation.  New Jersey State Senator Bob Gordon from Bergen County was also present, and I stopped for a few minutes to speak with him, as he is chairman of New Jersey’s Legislative Oversight Committee and vice-chairman of the Transportation Committee.  His continued support for extending the Hudson-Bergen light rail line to Englewood Hospital (along with the backing of Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg) is essential for that project to proceed.
I then descended the stairs and proceeded through the long corridor to the PATH fare gates.  PATH employees were stationed at some turnstiles letting in passengers upon their presentation of NJ Transit Hoboken tickets.  They were constantly shouting that out, while local passengers entering from the street were paying their fares by either swiping New York City MetroCards or tapping their PATH Smartlink cards.  The PATH people at the turnstiles had small counters and were happily clicking away, knowing that their employers would be paid handsomely by NJ Transit for each ‘free’ rider.  The media was out in force video recording and interviewing.  During the heart of the rush hour we all observed an occasional back up of passengers into the corridor, but that was synchronous with the arrival of NJ Transit trains;  no sooner had the mass of humankind hit its peak, the crowd would dissipate.  As far as volume and congestion were concerned, I did not notice anything substantially different from my own experience during the early 1970s when I commuted to New York City’s financial district (later midtown) via the Erie Lackawanna Railroad and PATH.
One transit advocate was telling various members of the press that had his organization been consulted by NJ Transit ahead of time, they would have been told how to operate many more trains into Penn Station during the emergency period, and this dangerous overcrowding could have been avoided.  When asked about the size of its membership he replied that there were some 40 active members, but his organization officially represented the thousands of riders from all the communities in Morris and Essex counties.  I smiled to myself as it was clear the press saw with their own eyes that dangerous overcrowding did not exist, nor were they impressed by a membership roll of 40.  By the way one PATH employee told a photographer he was not allowed to take pictures, but when he said he was a member of the press, relented.
I wanted to see how easy it was to get through the PATH fare gates so I walked back into the corridor and then proceeded to one of the manned turnstiles, flashed my one-way Newark-Hoboken ticket and was let in without question.  I observed conditions from the other side of the barriers for a few minutes and then walked back through one of the turnstiles (which are reversible to allow unimpeded access for passengers exiting the station).  When I got back to the terminal’s concourse I noticed that NJ Transit personnel were now informing passengers alighting from suburban trains that they could also use other nearby PATH entrances, taking some pressure off the main passageway.
It was now getting close to 9 a.m. and the traffic through the terminal was significantly diminishing.  I went over to the waterfront piers and noted that ferries were pulling in and out on a regular basis.  I hung around while Charles Ingoglia of NJ Transit, Jennifer Schuck of New York Waterway and Senator Gordon were taking questions from the media.  I also renewed my acquaintance with Karen Rouse of WNYC, who many years ago had been the transportation reporter of the Bergen Record, as well as schmoozing with other NJT folks.
I boarded the 9:30 a.m. New York Waterway ferry, the Manhattan, which was headed to the West 39th Street pier from slip 5 (the furthest from the terminal) after being asked to show my NJ Transit ticket.  As mentioned earlier, Arthur Imperatore’s ferry company added the West 39th Street destination to the company’s existing routes from Hoboken Terminal (to World Financial Center and Pier 11-Wall Street) for the 8-week emergency period.  Two ferries were being used for the approximately 11-minute run, which was scheduled to operate every 15 minutes from 7 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 8 p.m.  Since it was now toward the end of the rush hour, the relatively small bi-level ferry was not crowded, and I enjoyed a leisurely ride, photographing the New Jersey skyline and Hoboken Terminal from the Hudson River side on this warm and humid, partly cloudy day.
New York Waterway was quite efficient and as soon as we alit, it prepared the Manhattan for its return 9:45 a.m. trip to Hoboken.  I didn’t see anyone board.  After picking up some NYW timetables I arrived at the curb and noted that buses were being loaded for quite a number of routes, specifically crosstown services on 57th, 49th-50th, 42nd, 34th and 23rd Streets, the southernmost also running along Broadway to Houston Street before doubling back.  These are peak hour routes; services are modified during the off peaks, specifically from 10:10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and after 7:00 p.m., to operate over other arteries, through areas like the theater district, Lincoln Center and Fifth Avenue for shopping.  I suspect the company is very marketing oriented and analyzes passenger counts carefully.
I chose the 34th Street route, as I wanted to check out the PATH 33rd Street terminal next, and then Penn Station.  And now I encountered my first real disappointment of the day;  the comfortably air-conditioned bus with about 24 passengers aboard from various NY Waterway ferry routes became mired in crosstown traffic.  We departed at 9:53, and despite a “Bus Only” curb lane on 34th Street, were held up by cars, taxis and trucks parked in the reserved lane.  They were delivering cargo and people, as well as “mail and express.”  Police cars were also parked in the lane along with UPS and Fedex trucks, and it took lots of time to navigate through the congestion, which included traffic lights that had so many turn cycles that the time for going straight ahead was severely limited.  In addition to the M34 city buses, there were tourist buses using the lane, with the latter taking their time, seeming to almost purposely miss the lights in order to give their passengers more time to absorb the patter of the sightseeing narration.  We stopped at city bus stops.  Only 1 passenger each got off at 11th Avenue and 10th Avenue, none at 9th (I guess B&H was not yet open), 2 at 8th, and the remainder split about evenly at 7th (Penn Station), 6th (Herald Square) and remaining on the bus as it continued to 5th, Madison, Park and Lexington Avenues.
Outbound traffic at PATH’s 33rd Street terminal was minimal at this time of day, and only one person (with two policemen) was stationed to let NJ Transit passengers through a single turnstile upon their presentation of NJT tickets.  I should have mentioned earlier that PATH was honoring NJ Transit tickets only at it Hoboken, World Trade Center and 33rd Street stations.  I noticed that there are no NJ Transit ticket vending machines at 33rd Street, so I wondered what would happen if an NJT rider told the PATH employee that he would be buying his ticket at Hoboken.  NJT had urged its passengers to buy “round-trip” tickets before coming in, but how about those who are reverse commuters, starting from New York City?  Unless they had smartphones, there was no way they could buy their tickets other than by walking to Penn Station and then walking back.  I thought it might have been possible that PATH employees were told to let in any passenger indicating that problem, but I did not pursue the issue.  Anyway, things were certainly running smoothly during this slow period.
Penn Station looked like its normal self--business as usual (note the lack of a valued judgment).  I asked the Amtrak information booth clerk for an Empire Service schedule and was told that Amtrak timetables were no longer being printed, but he would gladly write anything down for me (!).  I was told the same after asking the same question at the Amtrak Customer Relations office.  With certain Empire Service trains running to and from Grand Central for the duration, I think it is especially irresponsible (and unconscionable as well) that printed information is not available.  (I wonder what the usual Amtrak apologists are saying about this.)
I then took time to run an errand, which involved riding the number 1 subway train to 86th Street.  After swiping my Senior MetroCard I saw that the elevator to the uptown local platform was out of service, so I decided to look at the countdown clock to see if it would be just as efficient for me to ride an express (2 or 3) to 72nd Street and change there to the local.  The display listed the next six trains and none of them showed a 1 to 242nd Street-Van Cortlandt Park.  And the sixth one showed the next 2 to 241st Street-White Plains Road would not be arriving for another 15 minutes.  What was going on?  I rode up to the center uptown/downtown express platform and the first thing I saw was a northbound number 1 arrive at the local platform.  So much for the accuracy of the countdown clocks.  I believe Tony Fitzherbert’s comment that when the signs display “Good Service,” they are no more than 50-percent accurate (just like broken clocks are correct twice a day).  An uptown 3 came in about 5 minutes later and I boarded the crowded train and had to stand--at least for a couple of stops.  At 66th Street we finally passed the 1-train I had observed earlier, so I successfully caught up to it when we pulled into 72nd.  At that time the countdown clock for the 1 showed 1 minute and 6 minutes, so in addition to the ones at 34th Street not showing the first 1-train arrival they were not showing the following one either.  I rode it to 86th and saw that the annunciator showed 5 and 10 minutes for the next trains, so the service was operating pretty well despite the incorrect information at Penn Station.
After completing my errand and seeing I had plenty of time, I rode an M-104 bus back down Broadway.  The posted timetable showed a 10-minute midday headway on what was once the Third Avenue Railway System’s busiest streetcar line.  Oddly enough, the service frequency on Saturdays and Sundays is better than weekdays, at about every 6 to 7 minutes.  My MetroCard recorded “XFR OK,” so the return ride was free.  However it was slow (you get what you pay for).  While the driver was excellent--calm and safety conscious (he had to put up with vehicles that cut him off and ones that would not let him leave curbside bus stops)--it was still a crawl.  There are fewer bus stops than I remember from the past, seemingly every 3 or 4 blocks on average.  The M-104 formerly turned eastward on 42nd Street, just like the B streetcar did, but now operates only as far as 41st Street and 7th Avenue, where it turns west to head back uptown along 8th Avenue.  (The M-100 bus line, which replaced the K streetcar, still turns east to the river along 125th Street, although it no longer crosses the Broadway Bridge to Marble Hill.)  I walked the remaining distance from 41st to 34th and entered Penn Station through the spacious LIRR entrance just west of 7th Avenue, which is equipped with an elevator and several escalators.
It was now time for lunch and I bought a large sweet iced tea at McDonalds and brought it with me to one of the two remaining Rose’s Pizza outlets on the LIRR level (there used to be three).  Rose’s creates some of the best pizza in New York (which could be interpreted to mean the best pizza in the world) and I bought two slices, which I adorned with a modicum of red pepper.  Delicious and refreshing.  The MTA appears to be downgrading (they call it upgrading) the shops on the LIRR level with bland chain outlets;  a Duane Reade and a Shake Shack have already replaced some of the old New York-type places, with a Wasabi Sushi coming next.  I think of the late Bob Underwood whenever I see the shuttered Hot & Crusty bakery, which was functionally replaced by an overpriced and lower quality Magnolia Bakery across the corridor.  There is also an Au Bon Pain next door to the now dark Hot & Crusty.
One of the items affecting the service changes that I did not mention earlier involved the ability of M&E riders to access Penn Station by rail by changing to and from Montclair-Boonton line trains at the shared Newark Broad Street station.  The Montclair trains run about every hour (40 minutes in the peak).  New Jersey Transit was well aware that commuters who wanted to retain direct access to midtown might want to do that, so it is discouraging it, if not totally eliminating it in rush hours--to prevent overcrowding.  As mentioned earlier they reduced the fare to Hoboken and offered free connecting service by bus, PATH and ferry to cross the Hudson, while retaining the regular New York fare for Penn Station access.  But they also went a little further, eliminating the Newark Broad Street stop on Midtown Direct Montclair trains during peak periods, as they know there is no way these trains could handle the extra number of people that would want to transfer.  During the rush hours, passengers from the Montclair Branch heading for Newark now must use Hoboken trains.  But since no such trains run during midday, NJT retained the stop for inbound trains after 10:30 a.m., as well as for outbound trains before the evening rush hour--basically trains that are not crowded.  But NJT emphasized that Hoboken tickets would NOT be honored on Midtown Direct trains.  Thus connections between the M&E and Penn Station can be accomplished during slow periods, but only by riders with New York tickets.
There is a large electronic display board at the north end of the New Jersey Transit’s Penn Station concourse that lists each destination and shows the time of the next train to that point and whether and where passengers would have transfer.  Thus the first thing I checked when arriving at Penn Station at about 10:30 that morning was whether the connection to individual M&E stations from Montclair trains at Newark was being shown.  I was very impressed, as for stations like South Orange the board displayed the 11:29 Montclair-Boonton train with instructions to change at Newark Broad Street.  It did not say, “go to PATH, do not pass Go, do not collect $200.”  So my next job was to see if these connections, which were not advertised in any of the literature supplied by NJT outlining the choices M&E passengers had, were actually being used on this first day of the emergency summer schedule.
I bought a ticket from New York to Newark Broad and rode the 1:29 p.m. train.  Operations were quite normal; my ticket was collected (I should have bought one to East Orange, so I would have gotten it back) and I saw that passengers bound for Bergen and Rockland Counties detrain at Secaucus. When I got off at 1:49 (on time) I was astonished by the number of people alighting and staying on the platform to wait for an upcoming M&E train from Hoboken.  There must have been at least 50 passengers who know how to read timetables and chose this route rather than PATH to make the connection.  At 1:58 (one minute late) a Gladstone branch MU train (four cars) came in and absorbed these riders very easily.
I then went over to the inbound side of the station and saw about 70 people doing the same thing in reverse.  They arrived on 2:14 p.m. train to Hoboken and stayed on the platform to wait for the 2:20 p.m. Midtown Direct train from Montclair to arrive (unfortunately it was marked running 10 minutes late).  There is no question in my mind that commuters who have to deal with public transportation on a daily basis are transit smart, and are capable of figuring out the options they have for reaching their destinations and selecting the one that suits them best.  On the other hand, it is quite possible that many of the 50 outbound and 70 inbound passengers also made this transfer before the emergency schedules took effect.
Speaking of user intelligence, the reduction in fares from M&E points, reaching as high as 63 percent in some cases, makes for some anomalous situations.  As an example, the one-way fares to Newark from Summit and points further west, such as Morristown, Dover and Gladstone, are higher than the ones to Hoboken.  I would not be surprised that many Newark-bound passengers are buying Hoboken tickets during the current period.
I rode the 2:14 p.m. train to Hoboken, which consisted of 4 Arrow MUs (I counted the waiting passengers on the platform as we gradually accelerated).  This time my ticket was collected and punched, but when I saw the crewmember putting it into his pocket I held out my hand and asked him how was I going to get my free ride on PATH.  He didn’t say a word and handed it back to me.  After a stop at the MMC for employees we arrived just three minutes late at 2:35, again over on track 17, but this time right at the bumper block.  With it being only a hop, skip and a jump to the Hudson-Bergen light rail terminal, I ambled over and got what I hope was a good, well-lit photo of a Tonnelle Avenue-bound LRV with the now iconic replica Hoboken Terminal tower in the background.  I then proceeded to PATH, where after I presented my ticket, the turnstile guard at first refused me entry.  I suspect he must have seen the “Newark” printed on it, but after I challenged him and he also saw “Hoboken,” he let me in.  The doors of the 33rd Street-bound train fronting on the southernmost platform had already closed so I quickly hopped aboard it from the other side.  I found that there were no empty seats and the air-conditioning was not working well in the rear car, but I wasn’t able to move up to the next one, which was acceptably cool and mostly empty, until Christopher Street.
The 33rd Street terminal was more crowded now that it was past 3 o’clock and getting toward the afternoon rush.  Ticketed NJ Transit passengers were being accommodated at two turnstiles and they were moving freely.  Checking out Penn Station, I saw that M&E stations on the large display no longer had departure times posted, but rather, “see schedule,” as for the next few hours Montclair trains would be skipping Newark Broad Street and there would be no way to connection  by rail to the M&E at Newark.  Everything seemed to be running on time.
It was now about 3:30 and I left the station through the 34th Street exit, crossed the street and began to wait for the ferry-bound bus at the stop on the northwest corner of 34th and 7th.  It occupies a substantial portion of the curb, with the sidewalk containing MTA Select Bus machines that issue receipts for cash or for the insertion of valid MetroCards.  This is part of a Proof-of-Payment system that allows riders to enter through any door of the long articulated low-floor buses.  Passengers are checked for receipts on a random basis by roving inspectors aboard the M34 and M34A buses--I don’t know what the rate of attempted fare dodging is. 
While I waited for my coach I observed charter bus activity on the eastbound side of the street.  Buses were parked in the bus lane, almost bumper to bumper, to pick up Long Island Rail Road customers.  Almost all were lettered “Coach USA,” with several coming from Lakefront Lines in Cleveland, supplemented by the most common New York area subsidiaries:  Suburban Transit, Short Line and Rockland Coaches (Red and Tan).  Each had clear, easily readable signs on their windshields indicating their destinations:  I saw Valley Stream, Seaford and Bethpage on the buses laying over and waiting for passengers to board.  Few passengers were getting on, and the buses would leave almost empty, their places immediately taken by the next departures.  (Of course it wasn’t the heart of the rush hour yet, but a few days later I read that much of this supplemental service had been discontinued because of lack of usage.)
My half-filled bus finally pulled in and took me to the West 39th Street ferry terminal, where I arrived just short of 3:55.  It’s a very busy place, and while there are electronic destination boards in the lobby indicating which boats are leaving from which slips, once you get to the docking points themselves there is no posted information.  As it turned out every NY Waterway boat that was in port at 5 minutes before 4 o’clock was operating to points other than Hoboken Terminal, including Edgewater, Port Imperial, Hoboken 14th Street and Belford (plus Lincoln Harbor was carded for 4:02).  And the slips are shared with New York Water Taxi, which is basically a hop-on, hop-off water-based sightseeing operation along the New York City waterfront.  The whole area looked a little like a madhouse, but the regulars apparently knew exactly where to find their boats, and it was only us amateurs that were a bit confused.
Once the other vessels departed, the boat for Lincoln Harbor and the Manhattan pulled in.  At that point Hoboken Terminal-bound passengers boarded, not that there were many.  When I flashed my Hoboken-Newark ticket, the crewman tried to collect it, but I told him I needed it to give to the train conductor.  I suspect he was told to pick up INBOUND one-way tickets (which is a good idea as it avoids the reuse of the same tickets), but missed that word.  He gave it back to me without argument, and we pulled out at 4:03, after a two-minute turnaround (I guess there is no delay for FRA brake-test regulations).
It is amazing how much skyscraper construction is going on in midtown Manhattan, especially along the Hudson River waterfront.  The skyline will be totaled changed in a few years.  I didn’t want to photograph the unfinished buildings, but I think I might have been able to get one photo of the Empire State Building with no cranes in view.  We pulled into Hoboken slip 5 at 4:12, and I suspect the boat was on time for its 4:15 trip return.
The terminal again was staffed by lots of NJ Transit “suits,” and they were all pleased about how well things were going.  Steve Santoro, NJT’s Executive Director, was there, being accompanied by Penny Bassett and Paul Wyckoff.  The media was still out in force, but I don’t think they were that enthusiastic, as there were no real problems to cover.  Around tracks 3 and 4, where the corridors from different PATH exits converge, large electronic board displays destinations, departure times and track numbers.  Passengers were gathering around it, looking for their trains, and I thought that this could become a congestion problem as the rush hour proceeded.  But by 4:40 that board went dark, which meant that passengers looking for their track numbers had to find them from other displays scattered around the area.  Someone from NJ Transit apparently noticed that as well, and solved the problem before it became one.
However, there were some trains listed as cancelled.  There were only a few of them, but the problem affected more than just the M&E.  On that line the 4:38 to Summit local had been annulled, and the next train for those stations wouldn’t be until 5:01.  When I got home and checked NJ Transit’s site, I found that the 7:03 Summit local was combined with the 7:09 Gladstone express, which then made all stops.  It seemed that all deviations from the norm were also announced on the station’s public address system.  Similarly I observed (from these announcements and indications on the departure board) that the 4:51 Suffern express and 4:56 Ridgewood (Bergen County branch) local were also combined, as were the 5:20 Suffern express and 5:26 Waldwick (also Bergen County branch) local.  Upon inquiring about that I was told that this was because of a trespasser and police activity--hardly a problem caused by the introduction of the summer schedule.
Everything seemed to be running smoothly and I was getting tired, so I decided to take the 5:12 Mt. Olive-bound Montclair-Boonton train, which is an express, stopping only at Newark and Bay Street before arriving at Watchung Avenue.  It operated perfectly.  I reached my front door before 6 p.m. (5:42 on-time arrival at my home station).  I checked the internet, and saw that there were no problems with trains leaving Penn Station.
All in all I had a good day, and more importantly, so did New Jersey Transit.  Almost everything ran smoothly and for all practical purposes, the only trauma is being suffered by M&E Midtown Direct passengers who have to deal with longer journey times, which by September, should be a thing of the past.  I don’t want to belittle that, as now tens of thousands of people are being inconvenienced to some extent. 
Kudos to all the planners and operating personnel for a job well done.  I hope it continues that way.
 
Jack May
 
 
  • Member since
    December, 2007
  • From: Georgia USA SW of Atlanta
  • 8,223 posts
Posted by blue streak 1 on Monday, August 14, 2017 8:24 PM
  • Member since
    December, 2007
  • From: Georgia USA SW of Atlanta
  • 8,223 posts
Posted by blue streak 1 on Thursday, September 07, 2017 12:50 PM

It such a shame that we could not complain about all the Amtrak screw ups in the rebuilding ?  Good set of pictures from Newsday and at end what is next .

 

http://projects.newsday.com/lirr/lirrs-summer-hell-trackwork-penn-station/

 

  • Member since
    August, 2005
  • From: At the Crossroads of the West
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Posted by Deggesty on Thursday, September 07, 2017 1:39 PM

I'm glad it is over--will it last another 100 years?

According to some reports, it was not as horrible a summer as was feared; indeed, some former users of Penn Station preferred the detour via Hoboken and PATH to their old routes.

Johnny

  • Member since
    November, 2005
  • 3,926 posts
Posted by wanswheel on Monday, October 09, 2017 9:02 AM

 

NY Times says track repair was delayed by Moynihan project and skyscraper construction.

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/09/nyregion/amtrak-penn-station-derailments.html

 

  • Member since
    December, 2007
  • From: Georgia USA SW of Atlanta
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Posted by blue streak 1 on Monday, October 09, 2017 1:10 PM

NT Times has gotten the rest of the story leading up to the derailments.   This poster' concerns about the work on Monyihan station taking priority appear to be well founded.  Blame though it will denied falls on Cuomo and the mayor for pushing the station project instead of track work..

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/09/nyregion/amtrak-penn-station-derailments.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=photo-spot-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

 

Deggestry unfortunately it will not even last another year except for what was done this summer.  Looks like we will have to put up for work every summer for at least 5 years ?  That is if the specialized parts are now on order.  Maybe MC can give us some idea what specialized parts ate needed ?

  • Member since
    May, 2003
  • From: US
  • 12,321 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Monday, October 09, 2017 1:52 PM

blue streak 1
NT Times has gotten the rest of the story leading up to the derailments.   This poster' concerns about the work on Monyihan station taking priority appear to be well founded.  Blame though it will denied falls on Cuomo and the mayor for pushing the station project instead of track work..

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/09/nyregion/amtrak-penn-station-derailments.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=photo-spot-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

 

Deggestry unfortunately it will not even last another year except for what was done this summer.  Looks like we will have to put up for work every summer for at least 5 years ?  That is if the specialized parts are now on order.  Maybe MC can give us some idea what specialized parts ate needed ?

Not to give Amtrak a pass - there are always competing priorities when it comes to spending money for any reason.  Amtrak existing at the mercy of politics will always give undue priority to projects where political weight is used to extort Amtrak into doing what the politicians want - even at the expense of continuing safe operations. 

When the cars hit the ground priorities change.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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    September, 2010
  • 994 posts
Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Monday, October 09, 2017 4:57 PM

After a bad (fatal) accident at an intersection occers, the traffic signal that the locals have been pleading for for years gets installed. The old story that it takes a fatality to move the powers that be. Fortunatly, no one had to die at NYP.

  • Member since
    December, 2007
  • From: Georgia USA SW of Atlanta
  • 8,223 posts
Posted by blue streak 1 on Wednesday, October 11, 2017 5:36 PM

Cuomo strikes back   ========

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/

Of course he will deny political presure  Questions.

Just who did he consult telling him that the Moniyham station work did not delay the repairs ? Madam Zelda's palm reading service ? Even Cuomo admitted Amtrak  was working on other projects.  Why ?  Was it because of the MNY requests being much higher political priority ?

A real measure would be this summer of how many hours the revisions of MNY received ?  Also how many hours now this fall ?

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