Hate Your NJ Transit Ride to NYC? Driving Will Soon Be Hell, Too

(Bloomberg) -- Manhattan commuters who are choosing cars over New Jersey Transit’s poor train service are about to find that driving is no alternative after all.

That’s because New Jersey officials are telling drivers to avoid the Interstate 495 approach into the city -- including the Lincoln Tunnel -- for the next 30 months amid bridge repairs.

Governor Phil Murphy warned that work on the Route 495 Viaduct in Hudson County, a nine-span bridge over railroad lines and highways and feeder to the Lincoln Tunnel, will further delay drivers accustomed to jams on one of the U.S. East Coast’s busiest highway stretches. He urged commuters to watch for updates on RestoreNJ495.com as workers rebuild corroded framing and piers.

“Traffic along this stretch has never been easy,” he said at the North Bergen park and ride lot for NJ Transit buses, alongside the bridge. “For the next two-and-a-half years it’s going to be worse. Anyone looking for a quick shortcut is going to be left disappointed.”

In a news release, his administration suggested alternatives including the Holland Tunnel and the George Washington and Goethals bridges; ferries, buses and light rail; Port Authority of New York and New Jersey trains; and working from home. Left off the list were trains operated by NJ Transit, whose engineer and equipment shortages in recent weeks have led to cancellations, skipped stops and increased crowding.

At a legislative hearing in Trenton on Aug. 16, Kevin Corbett, NJ Transit’s executive director, said eight years of budget cuts by former Governor Chris Christie have left the agency with 400 fewer employees and old equipment. The agency also is pulling engines out of service to equip them with federally mandated emergency-braking equipment.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.