NJ Transit probes 2-hour late 'bus ride from hell'

June 14, 2013 9:23:44 AM PDT
New Jersey Transit is investigating why one of its bus drivers took a different route Thursday, making passengers nearly two hours late into New York City.

NJ Transit's No. 113 Express from Dunellen was due at the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 7:39 a.m., a roughly 40-minute ride. It didn't get there until 9:22 a.m.

NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder says the investigation will examine all parts of the trip and appropriate action will be taken. Snyder says the agency is reaching out to apologize to passengers, who vented their frustration to Eyewitness News reporter Phil Lipof.

"It just didn't end," commuter Carol Beier said. "I looked down at my phone, and when I looked up, we weren't in Kansas anymore. We were on surface streets."

And that was just the beginning of the long, strange trip. But what didn't take long was for regulars on board to realize the driver got confused when the New Jersey Turnpike got backed up.

"I think she lost her patience," passenger Jim Coan said. "Got off and went back south on the Turnpike, and went all the way to Secaucus."

"I have no idea," rider Ed Hassani said. "I went by MetLife stadium like three times, and then all of a sudden, we are on the [Garden State] Parkway going north, above where we usually go to the Lincoln Tunnel."

The driver then took the George Washington Bridge into the city.

"Never once an announcement, and then you look up and you're going over the GWB," Beier said. "You didn't sign up for that. It would have been better if I didn't have a 9:30 appointment."

No one really knows why the driver got confused, why she circled MetLife stadium or why she wound up lost in Secaucus. But Carol and many others were two hours late for work. And believe it or not, that wasn't the most frustrating part.

"When we got to New York, she didn't know how to get to Port Authority," Hassani said. She wouldn't let us off the bus on the street, and that's when people started going crazy and calling 911 and New Jersey Transit. That got a little crazy."

By then, riders had enough. Two hours late, frustrated and bewildered, and when the ride from hell was finally over, you'd think the driver would at least be apologetic, right?

"She said get the F out of my bus," Coan said. "She said that very clearly. Those are the words she used. I said 'Very nice and very professional.' Those are the words I used."

Riders say the profanity added insult to injury on a day none of them will ever forget. And in an area that sees its share of commuting nightmares, that's saying something.

ONLINE: njtransit.com