WNYC's Bob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.
It was an unusual site in Penn Station Thursday morning: a phalanx of NJ Transit's top managers lined up ready to be criticized by a ridership put through two days of delays and service disruptions after a derailment.
Kevin O'Connor, head of New Jersey Transit's rail division, said the most common complaint he heard from riders was the lack of accurate information.
"Historically, there has been a though process where we did not want to upset people and tell them specific things — for instance, a derailment," he said. "We have no put steps in place. We are going to tell folks exactly what's happening."
Alex Foley, of Brooklyn, gave the NJ Transit management team an earful on Thursday morning. He said his 15-year-old stepson was stranded in Long Branch when train service was suspended.
"He was really upset about that," Foley said. "He stood on the platform by himself for a while. Everybody else seemed to figure out there were going to be no more trains and left. The web site had no information and the call in number ends at 7 p.m. No station house. No phone calls. And the website was inaccurate."
The two-car derailment of a Trenton-bound train leaving Penn Station on Tuesday morning required New Jersey Transit to re-route mid-town train traffic in and out of New York through Hoboken for two days. No one was injured during the derailment.
The need to sideline the critical stretch of track so near the Penn Station platform to clear the derailment caused service delays and disruptions throughout the the regional rail system. The cause of the derailment is still under investigation.