The nation's largest statewide public transportation system says it faces a massive repair and restoration effort in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
NJTransit, consisting of 12 commuter train lines, 3 light rail lines and 261 bus routes, suffered "unprecedented devastation" from the storm, according to James Simpson, New Jersey's transportation commissioner and chairman of the NJTransit board.
The system normally provides 895,000 weekday trips, servicing 164 rail stations, 61 light rail stations and more than 19,000 bus stops. Little of that activity was evident on Tuesday, however. Instead, transit crews had begun an extensive damage review.
“With the break of daylight, NJ TRANSIT began to inspect and assess the full extent of the damage," Simon said. "Our employees are committed to restoring the system as safely and efficiently as humanly possible.”
Commuters who rely on the system to travel between major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia, awoke to the bad news that the service suspensions implemented as Hurricane Sandy approached on Monday were unlikely to be short-lived.
According to NJTransit, there is no estimate for restoration at this time and initial post-storm inspections "reveal damage includes but is not limited to the following:
--Washouts have been reported along the North Jersey Coast Line, as well as at Kearny Junction, a critical link for MidTOWN Direct service to New York City. "
--Flooding has been recorded in Newark Light Rail tunnels while debris has impacted power lines along the Hudson Bergen Light Rail.NJ TRANSIT rail station hubs at Hoboken, Secaucus and Newark Penn Station sustained impacts due to flood waters."
--Two tug boats collided with the North Jersey Coast Line’s Raritan River Draw Bridge at approximately 4:15 a.m. this morning. The full impact to the bridge is unknown at this time."
--Three boats and two cargo containers collided with the North Jersey Coast Line’s Morgan Drawbridge over the Cheesequake Creek at approximately 4:40 a.m. this morning. Additionally, two boats are also currently resting atop this bridge. The full impact to the bridge is unknown at this time."
The only reference to the timing of any restoration of service was this additional line in a release from the system: "Service will not resume until the State’s public transit system is repaired, safe, and secure."
Commuters are being advised to monitor broadcast traffic reports, follow NJTransit's Twitter feed @NJ_TRANSIT or visit njtransit.com. Updated information about specific destinations may also be found at www.njtransit.com/mytransit or by calling (973) 275-5555.