The first snowfall of the season hit the New York City area on Thursday – and that meant the latest crisis for the region’s public transportation services.
As regular readers of Twitter know, the bus and rail services that serve New York City and its suburbs on Long Island, in Westchester County and Connecticut, and in New Jersey, have been plagued for years by underfunding, aging equipment, poor management and, many critics contend, plain old incompetence.
Perhaps the greatest crisis point Thursday evening was the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan. The facility became so crowded with rush-hour commuters waiting for delayed buses amid the snowstorm that managers blocked more travelers from entering around 5:15 p.m., the New York Post reported.
“I’m infuriated and my bus line is awful as it is and I’ve never seen it like this,” Kristen Norton, 23, of Bloomfield, N.J., told the newspaper. “We are going to try and get a drink — seems like a sensible thing to do.”
“I’m infuriated and my bus line is awful as it is and I’ve never seen it like this. We are going to try and get a drink — seems like a sensible thing to do.”
Port Authority managers said snow and ice conditions made it difficult for some buses to reach the terminal’s upper levels, New York City’s FOX 5 reported.
Rail conditions weren’t much better. Some users of New Jersey’s NJ Transit waited more than two hours to board a train. The Long Island Railroad also saw delays, FOX 5 reported.
Both rail services run out of Penn Station in Midtown, which sees frequent commuter congestion even on sunny days, because of delayed and canceled trains. One reason is ongoing track work on the aging lines.
One NJ Transit rider was furious that the rail service continued to charge riders a full fare.
“Why are tickets being collected when trains have [been] delayed and canceled all evening??” Twitter user Allie Dellano asked.
Those who chose to drive fared no better. A multi-vehicle accident on the George Washington Bridge between New York City and northern New Jersey backed up traffic for hours, according to FOX 5.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat who took office in January, tweeted out a photo showing himself at the state’s Traffic Management Center in Woodbridge.
“The storm was worse than originally forecasted,” Murphy wrote. “We will not stop working until our roads are clear.”