MTA executive on Amtrak after Penn mess: 'They've heard loud and clear the frustrations'

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Jim Dolan reports from Penn Station.

It was a far less traumatic commute Wednesday after rough rush hours Tuesday morning and night at Penn Station in New York.

There were 15-minute delays on New Jersey Transit because of Amtrak maintenance at Penn. But there were no other major issues.

Tuesday's problems were caused by a disabled Amtrak train in the morning and power problems in one of the East River tunnels later in the afternoon. Major delays due to maintenance also hit the station a day earlier.

NJ Transit, Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak all faced significant delays in the afternoon Tuesday. LIRR suspended westbound service, which resumed later in the evening. Access to Penn Station was restricted due to crowding, but later that was lifted.

Amtrak delays and disruptions have become a common occurrence for commuters at Penn Station.

"Penn Station is a debacle. It has been for decades," Governor Cuomo said.

The ripple effects often impact service along NJ Transit and the LIRR. On Monday, track maintenance caused delays, and Friday, signal problems were to blame for trains running behind schedule.

Ronnie Hakim, interim executive director of the MTA, said, "Amtrak has committed to coordinating with us. We called for it. We expect it. I think ... they've heard loud and clear the frustrations."

Amtrak on Tuesday said it was putting together plans to improve the aging infrastructure at Penn Station, but that work would result "in some delays and cancellations."

Amtrak is slated to hold a conference call with state officials on Thursday to detail their plan to repair the commuter hub.

"We need to know we are traveling over a safe train infrastructure and clearly the status quo, which as you point out continues, is not acceptable," said Hakim.

Almost two weeks ago, a disabled NJ Transit train caused two-hour delays throughout the evening commute.

Commuter Damian Thompson said those delays forced him to cancel a business trip to Red Bank.

"Hopefully, it will go smoother today," said Thompson Wednesday. "I find it interesting that there is only one tunnel in and out of this city."

Nearly a month ago, an Amtrak train derailment injured two people and completely halted service.

Ellie Terrett, who works overnight and commutes back home in the morning, said her ride has become even longer.

"Monday and Friday -- and even yesterday -- the trains have been delayed," said Terrett. "I've had to go to Hoboken to get home to Summit, which is where I live."

Governor Chris Christie is encouraged to see Amtrak making the repairs but goes on to say: "We are closely monitoring the situation to make sure these repairs by Amtrak address our deepest safety concerns, and that they are done in the most timely fashion to reduce inconvenience to riders, while ensuring long-term reliability."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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penn stationnjtransitamtraklirrmtaNew York City
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