After NY Penn Repairs, NJ Transit Delays Actually Got Worse

Is fall worse for commuters than the Summer of Hell? The stats say yes. (Published Friday, Oct. 13, 2017)

What to Know

  • On-time performance for NJ Transit trains at New York Penn Station plunged in September

  • Amtrak repair work at Penn in July and August was supposed to snarl the commute, but things went smoothly

  • The number of delays attributed to Amtrak surged in September, while NJT's own issues fell

If you thought your NJ Transit commute was worse in September than it was during the "Summer of Hell," you might actually be right.

The two-month repair work at New York Penn Station was supposed to be a nightmare for commuters, but actually went relatively smoothly. Once the station fully reopened, though, performance nosedived.

In September, morning peak trains to Penn were on time 77.1 percent of the time, according to performance data the railroad released this week. That compares to 88.9 percent in August and 90.7 percent in July.

For all weekday traffic to Penn combined, trains were on time 88.5 percent of the time in September, down from the low-90s in July and August.

An NJ Transit spokeswoman said the comparison of September to August was "not a truly accurate one" and that the better comparison would be September 2017 versus September 2016, when the numbers were essentially equal. 

It wasn't just New York Penn that had an issue last month, though. Across the entire NJ Transit system, peak-period trains arrived as scheduled 89.2 percent of the time in September, down four percentage points from July and August. (The railroad defines "on time" as arriving within 5 minutes and 59 seconds of the advertised arrival time at a train's final destination.)

The number of delays attributed to Amtrak issues surged in September, up 73 percent over the month prior. But the number of delays attributed to NJT's own issues fell 18 percent. (All totaled, on-time performance actually improved a bit in September compared with a year earlier.)

To say commuters are agitated would be putting it mildly. One popular Twitter account for NJT outrage -- whose name is not repeatable in polite company -- shared at least 30 complaints in the last 24 hours. A search on Twitter for "NJTransit late" turns up scores more.

Among them: