I could have sworn I was in Penn Station last Thursday night.
The crowds and crowds of people gazing longingly at the monitors. The rush for the platform once it was announced. Drunk Ranger fans wandering around the station, wondering how to get to the Garden.
But, I was not. I was in fact at Grand Central and Metro-North was having a rough night for the second night in a row. Apparently, a disabled train in Yonkers and emergency track work on the New Haven Line left over from the “minor” derailment the day before was making a mess of the evening rush. What is interesting is the “message to riders” about the Wednesday derailment from Metro-North says the track work was “expected to be completed in time for this evening’s rush hour.” Apparently, it wasn’t. And, it had Grand Central looking very Penn Station-like.
And when GCT looks like Penn, social media blows up. I’m guilty. My Instagram pic made it on Channel 4. Look at me. Finally the big time after all those years as a TV reporter in mid-sized markets! I made it Mama! I made it.
But, the reason I think most commuters lose their minds when the Metro-North trains fail is that this is Metro-North. There was a time Metro-North had approval and on-time performance ratings above 95%. Remember, they told us they were the best.
Now, every delay, every train that breaks down, and every “minor” derailment gets an closer look. The disasters of 2013 and 2014 have made it an easier target.
Politicians can score points but where does that leave the riders?
Tuesday morning was slow going into Grand Central because of the weather I’d imagine. The 7:36a from Cold Spring didn’t hit GCT until well after 9a. The creep into the Park Ave. Tunnel was eerily reminiscent of the turtle-like approach NJ Transit trains make into the Hudson River tubes before getting to Penn. And, those are memories I had hoped I left on the other side of town.