NYC Commuters' 'Summer of Hell' Begins Monday

'I'd rather have my teeth pulled,' commuter says of anticipated woes from repair project
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 7, 2017 10:43 AM CDT
NYC Commuters Can Expect 'Summer of Hell'
In this June 30, 2017, photo, commuters exit a New Jersey Transit train at New York's Penn Station.   (Julio Cortez)

A massive two-month repair project will launch Monday at the country's busiest train station, temporarily exacerbating the daily commuting struggle during what New York's governor has predicted will be a "summer of hell," per the AP. At Penn Station, crowds of commuters fume at frequent delays, wedge into narrow stairways down to the tracks, and often stand in the aisles of packed trains for the ride home. About 600,000 passengers pass through it each day; in the mornings, it can take 10 minutes just to climb a flight of stairs to the concourse. The summer's accelerated repair work, spurred by two spring derailments, will close some of the station's 21 tracks and require about a 20% reduction in the number of commuter trains from New Jersey and Long Island.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo predicted the "summer of hell" back in May and wrote a letter to President Trump asking for federal help, appealing to Trump's local roots. Penn Station is just one symptom of a larger illness: The New York area also has an aging subway system subject to a recent state-of-emergency order, as well as a 67-year-old bus terminal called "appalling" by officials of its parent agency. And commuters—who often tweet photos with captions that can't be repeated here—will suffer this summer's overcrowding and reduced service with the knowledge the repairs won't add train capacity or eliminate other problems that cause regular delays. "We're all dreading it," one commuter says. "I'd rather have my teeth pulled out." (More commuting stories.)

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