New Jersey's commuter rail system returned to its normal schedule on several lines today, but delays continue to hamper commuters, and three weeks after Sandy, there are still questions about how well prepared the agency was for the storm.
While the NYC MTA, the agency that runs the New York subway system, has received high marks for preparation and response to the unprecedented flooding, NJ Transit has drawn the ire of its riders for a slower restoration of service and a lag in communicating what was working and what wasn't so that New Jersey commuters could plan their altered, and lengthened commutes.
Josh Crandall who created a website called Clever Commute, where people share information about NJ Transit delays with each other because traditionally that information hasn't been provided by NJ Transit fast enough. He was hearing from a lot of people who were upset by the lack of communication.
"People just didn't know: are they going to be without train service for two days, four days, of four weeks," he said.
New Jersey Transit spokesperson Nancy Snyder has repeatedly told Transportation Nation the reason for the delays is the "unprecedented damage” from Sandy. She was unable to provide an exact accounting of the damage even weeks later, though it was certainly extensive, including a boggling range of obstacles from piles of boats on top of rail lines, washouts, floods, and trenches of dead carp rotting by the rail lines.
This weekend Reuters reported that NJ Transit stored some rail cars in areas at risk of flooding, hampering the agency's ability to restore service quickly. NJ Transit parked some trains in Hoboken, which is four feet above sea level, and in Kearney Junction, in the Meadowlands, a swamp under normal conditions. Both got flooded with sea water damaging trains.
New Jersey Public Radio's Nancy Solomon recaps the NJ Transit response in this interview with WNYC's Richard Hake.