(BCG-this post is for you…your NJTransit tales came to mind when I was mentally composing this blog post.)
Being that my parents live in NJ, that means unless I get a ride from the city-I unfortunately am forced to take NJ Transit’s lovely trains…from Penn Station to Secaucus Junction, then transfer to a different train heading to Bergen County. Should be easy, right? Wrong…you don’t know the number of times I have come very close to missing the connection at Secaucus because the train was late leaving Penn-and one time heading back to the city, the train was running so behind schedule that I missed my connecting train to Penn by less than a minute (with the next one not scheduled to arrive for another 45 minutes!)-had I known that I was gonna miss the train, I would have stayed on the current train to Hoboken and taken the PATH train.
So-being that I am not crazy about buses, and that Amtrak would cost an arm and a leg-my travel plans were as follows-NJ Transit to Trenton, SEPTA to Philly. Then reverse that going home. Should have been easy. Oh boy it was not…
First off-as I mentioned in a previous post-the train heading to Trenton kept slipping further and further behind schedule and left us in jeopardy of not making the connection at Trenton. And we had to run for it once there. What was supposed to be about 10 minutes to make the connecting train was less than 1 minute. But make it I did, and they did even hold the train a coupla minutes. Now-I know that NJ Transit is horrible at making connections. To the point where I try and take a train out of Penn that departs a few minutes earlier than the suggested one to be on the safe side. But here-considering the trains were once an hour…didn’t really have that option.
But that was nothing compared to the return trip!! The plan was to leave Philly a little after 1, catch the 2pm departure from Trenton, get into Penn around 3:30ish. Got the SEPTA without any problems, got into Trenton on time. But minutes and minutes went by and nothing was leaving. To top it all off, the conductors were kinda vague as to what was going on. Good thing I had a smartphone with Internet access, right? I got on the NJ Transit website and found out what the conductors were not telling us-that there was an incident in New Brunswick and that all NE Corridor service (both NJT and Amtrak) was suspended between Metropark and Trenton. You could tell that the natives were getting restless, especially when being told that no one knew when service would be back up and running!!
My thoughts? I understand that these things happen-and I understood why service was suspended-but at that point what I wanted to know what my options were. A bus? Find some way to get to Newark and take the PATH train in? Or just wait it out?
Well that “undetermined time” was only an hour…we were able to get going a little after 3 pm. Oh-did I mention I had to change cars twice? First I could not take this one annoying chick yelling at whoever was on the other end of her cell phone conversation. Then, I had to move again, because I did not feel like listening to a bunch of guys saying “f*ck, f*ck, sh*t” for an hour and a half. Unfortunately, where I finally situated myself was behind 2 girls yapping away the entire time…I didn’t feel like moving again, just put on my headphones (though I did notice one woman move away from them…guess she also thought they were annoying!)
So we’re on the move, all should be well right? Nope. First off, apparently some people got on the train that were smoking and I heard the conductor say that they’d have to get off at the next stop. And then the train came to a stop just a little bit south of New Brunswick…and just stood there. All that was announced was a “stop signal”…until about a half hour passed and the real reason was finally revealed-that 2 tracks in New Brunswick were out of service due to the incident, so they had to let trains that were going south use the northbound tracks to drop off passengers…OK, why wasn’t this told to us a half-hour ago? You could tell that the conductor was getting pissed, one of the things he said was “I do not make stupid announcements.”
So we finally get to and past New Brunswick (albeit over 2 hours behind schedule!)…should be smooth sailing, right? Well, we pull into Secaucus where the platform is absolutely packed (i guess there was a lack of trains heading into Penn…hmmm, wonder why?) And I guess those natives were restless, because there were several announcements saying that the train was full, we couldn’t take anymore passengers, wait for the next train right behind this one…
Well finally, a little after 6, we got into Penn. And the conductor said to us “For those of you who have been on here since Trenton…this has been one hell of a ride!”
Understatement of the century.