Let’s start at the beginning. I am not an apologist for New Jersey Transit.
There are any number of things we can agree on: the age of their fleet is shameful, their communication skills are sorely lacking, and we all know that as soon as they send around a customer survey there will be single-tracking into Penn, Midtown Direct will be diverted to Hoboken, and something will have happened to something on/around/at the Portal Bridge. Add to this the fact that the Montclair Boonton line is the bastard stepchild of NJT and you have yourself a perfect storm for commuting hell.
I was a die-hard Manhattanite, swearing never to move to NJ, swearing never to relinquish my NYC cred for the suburban life of malls, Stop ‘n Shop, and most importantly, commuting into town. I wanted only ever to be within one subway ride (no transfers!) between home and work, and if I could walk to work on a glorious Spring morning, so much the better.
But as John Lennon wrote, life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. Lo and behold, I find myself in Montclair, commuting to work every day on NJT, and trying … trying … to turn that frown upside down.
When the quiet car was introduced during rush hour it was as if the Universe had sent a message to NJT just for me. When Candy Crush was invented, I knew I could while away the time, desperately trying to clear the jellies and bring the fruit down (damn you ever multiplying chocolates!). Letting Mark Maron on his WTF podcast be the voice of anger and pique so that I didn’t have to be made the ride slightly more palatable.
But… but. When NJT sends around an email saying that delays on a Monday morning are the result of Amtrak doing track maintenance, I have to cock my head and marvel at the ridiculousness of the statement. Amtrak scheduled maintenance on a Monday morning during rush hour in the winter. Really. Really?!
I am the least patient in the person in the world so living in the most populated area makes a great deal of sense for me. But, I have to be realistic. The infrastructure is shot, the Portal Bridge slated for restoration/repair shall never be so, and Governor Christie has shot down any hope we had of additional rails into Manhattan.
Add to this that I don’t really have a viable alternate mode of transport. DeCamp is a non-starter, and driving into NYC every day is lunacy, so the train it is. What is the answer? More money of course. New trains, new tracks, new bridges, new tunnels. In my fantasy, I’m commuting into NYC on the Orient Express, in the dining car, reading the paper, sipping my irish coffee. (Really, my fantasy is that I live in a brownstone in the West Village and don’t have to commute at all, but that’s a different story for a different day.)
Let’s find a different enemy. I say we beat up Amtrak. In the meantime, perhaps New Jersey Transit will try to do whatever it can to make our commute more pleasant… hell, I’d settle for a train arriving on time.
A girl can dream.