On Monday, July 10, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and suburban commuters will collectively hang their heads, sigh and accept the fact that their lives are going to be pretty shitty for the following eight weeks. The summer of hell at Penn Station is upon us, and it's poised to be the biggest buzzkill for the city since that one time the City Council told us we still weren't allowed to keep ferrets as pets.
Track space at the transit hub will be reduced by roughly 20 percent through September 1 as crews work to overhaul the dilapidated A Interlocking system, which was largely responsible for a pair of derailments at the station earlier this year.
During the stretch, commuters who rely on the Long Island Rail Road will have longer trains with greater capacity, but that's pretty much the only good news for NYC's neighbors to the east. Several trains on the LIRR will stop at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn and at Jamaica Station in Queens, where riders will be given a free transfer to the subway during peak periods. The LIRR is also providing some discounts for affected passengers, along with free transfers to ferries and a gratis park and ride service. The full slate of LIRR transit alternatives can be found here (none of them look very appealing).
Commutes in and out of New Jersey are set to be even worse, particularly for those who ride the Morris and Essex line. Four early morning trains on that route will run into Penn Station, but riders who don't feel like getting up at the crack of dawn are shit out of luck. Nearly all other trains on the line will terminate in Hoboken, and commuters will be able to hop on a ferry to either midtown or Wall Street, switch to a PATH train or board a NJ Transit bus to Port Authority. NJ Transit has built a whole new website devoted to letting commuters know how they can get around the mess, but (like the LIRR alternatives) all of the options look even less appealing than living in Jersey in the first place.
Even if you're like most sensible New Yorkers who avoid Penn Station as much as humanly possible, don't think that the track closures won't affect you. More than 600,000 people rely on the transit hub every single day, and the service changes there will likely cause a ripple effect into the outer boroughs, particularly Brooklyn and Queens. It remains to be seen exactly how the subway will be affected, but you can probably kiss your dreams of scoring a seat on your morning commute goodbye.