An Amtrak conductor rushing to get his customers onto a waiting train at Penn Station "bullied" and "antagonized" the crowds of New Jersey Transit commuters trying to get off after a long, delayed ride into the city Friday morning, passengers claim.
"Keep walking and shut up," he reportedly told the masses of harried NJ Transit customers as they poured out of their train and squeezed up the escalators and staircases from the platform.
Riders on the Morristown line train were already frustrated from having been delayed nearly an hour; an Amtrak switch problem near Newark jammed up many NJ Transit lines Friday morning, and the 6318 train that was supposed to arrive at Penn Station at 8:38 p.m. ended up rolling into Track 8 by 9:25 p.m., according to commuter Aston Smith.
"We came off onto the platform as Amtrak was calling a Track 7 departure," Smith told News 4. "As Amtrak passengers were funneling down escalators in the down direction, they're hitting a mosh pit of debarking NJ Transit customers."
Fanning the tension was the conductor, who stood on the platform screaming at NJ Transit customers, according to Smith.
"I don't care about you. You're not my customer," he reportedly yelled at NJ Transit riders. "Move, move, make an aisle, let my passengers on."
Smith said it went on and on, "he was just ripping into everybody."
Smith spoke to an Amtrak worker at their office in Penn Station about the conductor, and then tweeted the company about what she saw. Amtrak made a brief Twitter blunder by replying "Enjoy," but quickly followed up with another tweet to clarify that it had responded to the wrong customer message.
Meanwhile, a fellow NJ Transit customer on Twitter said he also saw the Amtrak conductor railing at people.
"Fellow @NJTransit commuter here who also witnessed this absurd @Amtrak behavior. 'I don't give a damn about you people.' #UnitedIsHiring," tweeted Brad Barton.
It's not unheard of for the two different rails to share platforms when they're going in two different directions, according to Smith -- and it does lead to frustration on the escalators and staircases. But she was stunned to see a conductor instigating and "baiting" people with "nasty comments," she said.
"We're all trapped, we're all stuck down there, the last thing we need is people petrified and fighting on the platform," she said. "Everything you don't do when you're trying to facilitate a situation like this -- being derogatory, standing there and exchanging barbs -- he was doing."
Smith wondered if Amtrak couldn't have held their train a few minutes and allowed the NJ Transit riders to clear.
"If [Amtrak's] goal is not to offend customers by being delayed, they certainly didn't achieve that by causing a verbal rumble on the train platform," she said. "It's counterproductive."
An initial email from an Amtrak spokeswoman to News 4 addressed the incorrect tweet reply to Smith and said they asked her for more information. When asked about the conductor's alleged behavior, Amtrak said "we are reviewing the incident to determine what happened so we can take corrective action to prevent a similar situation."
Amtrak owns the tracks, signal and equipment at Penn Station, which it leases out to NJ Transit and the Long Island Rail Road. A series of track and signal problems in recent weeks has prompted angry calls from the heads of NJ Transit and LIRR for Amtrak to do more.