NJ Transit defends Penn Station summer cutbacks at legislative hearing

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New Jersey Transit executives are defending a plan to reroute trains during this summer's repair work at New York's Penn Station.

WATCH LIVE: transit officials answer questions about ongoing problems at Penn Station

NJ Transit executive director Steve Santoro told lawmakers Wednesday that redirecting trains from Morris and Essex counties to Hoboken was the best option of several considered.

"Some of our customers will no longer have a one seat ride into an dout of Manhattan each weekday," Santoro said.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie announced the plans last week. Santoro said details are still being worked out on additional bus and light rail service.

Lawmakers said Wednesday they were left in the dark and were considering subpoenaing communications between NJ Transit and Christie to shed light on how the decision was made.

The summer repairs are expected to close three of the station's 21 tracks at a time for approximately seven weeks, beginning in July. The work was ordered after two recent derailments and numerous other delays.

System-wide there will be a reduction in trains from 21 to 15. But after 7 a.m., the trains will be diverted to Hoboken.

"Customers who want to take the PATH getting off at 33rd Street it will be 30 minutes," Santoro said.

"There is no way Hoboken can handle another 100-percent of commuters," said Victor Deluca, Maplewood Township Mayor.

On Tuesday, Amtrak announced its own service changes and cutbacks for this summer. Among the changes are reductions to service between New York and Washington, D.C., and between New York and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

An announcement is expected soon on how the Long Island Rail Road will be affected. The LIRR and NJT commuter lines carry hundreds of thousands people each weekday.

A power problem left two Long Island Rail Road trains stranded in an East River tunnel for over an hour on Tuesday and resulted in system-wide morning rush-hour delays, continuing a litany of recent woes that have plagued LIRR and New Jersey Transit commuters who use Penn Station.

On Wednesday, New York Communities for Change rallied at Penn Station along with elected officials to push for a "massive infrastructure investment in New York" to help prevent power and other problems that affect commuters.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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