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N.J. Commuters Struggle To Get To Work A Day After Train Crash

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's get today's report on mass transit during the morning commute in New Jersey, which is of national interest because we are one day after a train crash that closed a train terminal in Hoboken, N.J., not far from Manhattan. Reporter Stephen Nessen spent much of the morning at the Hoboken train terminal. He's on the line from WNYC. Hi, Stephen.

STEPHEN NESSEN, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: How'd it go this morning?

NESSEN: Well, early on, there was a lot of disorganization. There were no signs pointing people in which direction to go or what was working, what wasn't working. There were no workers in orange vests or anything guiding people, telling them what to do. And a lot of the entrances were fenced off. I mean, this is still very much an active crash site.

INSKEEP: Yeah.

NESSEN: So it was hard to get around. It was at this state that I ran into John Avellez (ph). He had just been given conflicting information.

JOHN AVELLEZ: Nobody has no answers. And they seem like they don't want to be bothered. So now for us commuters, what happens here?

INSKEEP: OK, what did happen there? What did he do?

NESSEN: Well, John Avellez had to walk two and a half miles back to a place called Liberty State Park to catch a bus because he was going to another hub, Secaucus. The trains, of course, were not running between Hoboken and Secaucus because of the crash.

INSKEEP: Oh, so he took a bus instead and at least it was scenic. Liberty State Park has that view of the Statue of Liberty and so forth. But it sounds like frustration for a lot of people.

NESSEN: A lot of frustration. He predicted to be over an hour and a half late, but folks at Hoboken do have options. There's a train called the PATH train, which runs under the East River to lower Manhattan. That was up and running no problem today. There are buses that go from there to midtown Manhattan. Those were not full, I should say. And there's even a ferry, if you want to take a boat, that'll take you to lower Manhattan.

INSKEEP: What about the rest of the train system throughout New Jersey today?

NESSEN: Well, there are lots of delays throughout the system. Like I mentioned, Secaucus is another big junction. They had over an hour delays there. And those trains, in fact, are running on a weekend schedule because, you know, if trains are blocked at Hoboken, they're not going in there, the whole system - it has a ripple effect. I should say New Jersey transit is not known for its nimbleness.

INSKEEP: What impressions did you come away with after spending several hours outside that station with a partially collapsed roof where an investigation is still going on and commuters were trying to get on with their lives?

NESSEN: Well, with the area fenced off in so many different locations, it was definitely confusing for people to get around. Folks in New Jersey often take a patchwork of commuter options to get to the city anyways. And so with one option out of commission, it did send people having to improvise a little bit. But there are a lot of ways to get into the city. But it's mostly delays along the transit lines that are really messing people up today.

NESSEN: Stephen Nessen of our member station WNYC, thanks very much.

NESSEN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.