Commuters on edge as 'Summer of hell' continues

- Commuters have been bracing for a ‘summer of hell’ with repair- related service cutbacks, and ongoing transit issues. While the first week was relatively smooth, 2 incidents Saturday put some on edge over what the week ahead will bring.

The Long Island Railroad waiting area is always busy, even on a Sunday afternoon.

Riders who've become accustomed to transit trauma think the past week's 20% service reduction didn't pack the punch that was predicted for a simple reason.

"I think a lot of people are avoiding the LIRR for the summer, so for those of us who have to take it it's been pretty good. Give it another week or so, and then we'll really see what happens," said one commuter.

As if there weren't enough mostly unpleasant changes underway for train riders, Amtrak is looking into an economy class with smaller seats, said Senator Charles Schumer. He acknowledged Amtrak has been shortchanged $36 billion by the federal government, but said this is not the answer.

"I'm telling the leaders of Amtrak to go back to the drawing board, look for legitimate ways you can save money, that are not literally on the consumer's back and front," he said.

On Saturday, an Amtrak train from Miami stalled entering Penn Station. Then, another train sent to rescue the 165 people on board also stalled due to electrical problems. Later, a New Jersey Transit train lost power and was stuck with about 600 people on board and no air conditioning. NJ Transit riders continue to acquire coping skills like waiting when there's no room and dealing with rushing crowds and expecting the unexpected.

Amtrak said their summer repair & renewal work should help riders in the fall, but don't expect miracles with this 116-year-old train station.

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