As an “Alberta Clipper” snowstorm blanketed New Jersey on Tuesday, January 21, transit riders rushed to NJ Transit’s website to ascertain whether their trains were running—but for more than 3 hours in the middle of the storm, the website was largely unavailable, according to reporting in The Record newspaper by Karen Rouse (January 22). At first, NJT said the site had been taken down for maintenance reasons; a notice to that effect greeted users, along with a very limited set of capabilities. Later NJT admitted that technical problems caused the outage. Many commuters decided to stay home on Tuesday, fearing they wouldn’t be able to get home as the storm intensified in the afternoon. On Wednesday, though, the storm was over, and many headed back to work – only to discover that NJT trains were operating on an “enhanced weekend schedule.” Savvy riders consulted the printed weekend schedule and guessed that “enhanced” meant that additional trains that usually run only on holidays would run on Wednesday. However, those who visited the now-repaired website were greeted by instruction to type in a future date, February 17, to get the right information. Instead of modifying the website to display the actual schedules in effect, customers were told to pretend it was a future holiday: February 17, President’s Day, when the “enhanced weekend schedule” was already set up. Many were mystified. NJT promised to discuss website issues with their contractor, but meanwhile observers speculated that the outage on Tuesday may have resulted from high demands on the site during the snowstorm, and wondered if the same thing could happen during Super Bowl Sunday, February 2 – less than two weeks away. NJT expects to carry thousands of first-time riders to the event, and many may visit the website for guidance.
The complete story formerly was found at http://www.northjersey.com/news/A_malfunctioning_NJ_Transit_website_raises_concern_for_Super_Bowl_transportation.html