Everyone feared the recent snowstorm, which New York Mayor DiBlasio predicted would be “historic” in its effect. The actual storm did not reach that level of intensity or devastation in New Jersey or New York City, but it is shaping up to be one of the worst winter storms of all time in New England and on Eastern Long Island.
We believe that New Jersey Transit made some errors in their storm response and in communicating their plans, but we also believe that NJT also did many things properly. We are concerned that NJT shut rail service down so early on Monday, and we question the adequacy of notice to the public of the impending shutdown. We do not see why service could not have continued until 11:00, the time when nonemergency motor-vehicle use was banned. We are also concerned that some passengers, especially from outlying areas, could have been stranded.
When NJT originally announced that they expected service to be suspended for 2 days, we were deeply concerned. Transit providers in New York and even Boston expected to shut down for only 1 day. We were relieved when that announcement was rescinded, but it should never have been posted in the first place.
We commend NJT for getting most of its service up and running by midday on Tuesday. Considering that Tuesday was a “snow day” for most people, the week-end level of service was sufficient on many lines. NJT may have been overly cautious in shutting down all service on Monday, but the information we saw at the time leads us to believe they acted reasonably and prudently. We have criticized NJT for its lack of care when management left hundreds of locomotives and railcars to flood during Hurricane Sandy. This time, NJT prepared for a disaster. NJT and the rest of us are lucky that the anticipated disaster did not happen here. We continue to express our hope that the people of New England will survive the storm with as little damage as possible.
We believe that NJT performed well in this situation, but we are still concerned that service did not return to the Montclair, Gladstone, or Port Jervis Lines on Tuesday.
Overall, NJT performed well under difficult conditions, and we believe it has earned a rating of “B” for its performance.
The members of the Lackawanna Coalition also wish to thank our Vice-Chair, John Bobsin, and our Communications Director, Donald Winship, for monitoring the situation throughout this emergency. Without their efforts, the rest of us would not have been as well-informed as we are.