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Letter to NJ Transit, From a Frustrated Commuter

Founder of SOMA Commuters wants NJT to reimburse him for lost revenue from Monday morning bus fiasco.

 

The following email was sent by Scott Greenstone to James Weinstein, Executive Director of NJ Transit, at 12:20 p.m., Monday, Nov. 12. Greenstone founded SOMA Commuters (@SOMACommuters) in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, to help commuters "navigate the ever confusing schedules, delays, and issues surrounding the New Jersey Transit and other local commuting options." Greenstone sent a copy of the email to Patch.

I just got to my office. Took me 6 hours door to door because of your staff's incompetence at the South Orange Train station. As I mentioned previously, we were told by your staff at 7:15 that the trains were suspended and to get on the bus. As you are aware, there was a bad accident at the tunnel this morning. It took the bus 4.25 hours to get to work. 

However, 10 minutes after we boarded the bus, a train came to South Orange and had plenty of seats. 15 minutes later, another train shows up, again with plenty of seats. As a result I lost 4 hours of revenue because your staff provided incorrect information to us. 

As promised, I have attached an invoice for my lost revenue and for the train ticket that the driver would not return to me. I expect payment within 7 days of receipt. Please mail the payment to

Scott Greenstone

(Address)


If payment is not received within the allotted time, appropriate steps to collect will be taken.


I thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Scott Greenstone November 12, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Thank you Patch. People at NJT need to be held accountable for their mistakes.
Robert W. Osborne November 12, 2012 at 07:03 PM
It took my wife over 5 hours to get to Queens today. How is that NJ Transit can't give a day's notice that the trains are going to run? This is not an isolated incident, NJT just has totally inept management.
Bronwen Jones November 12, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Sorry - gotta agree with Brian. The accident (according to 1010 WINS) occurred at 7:15. Scott - looks like you chose the wrong day to take the bus and your whining makes you come off like an entitled pain in the butt (no offense).
Robert W. Osborne November 12, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Oh wait, my bad, it does appear that NJ Transit gave a day, 1day, 24 hours notice. Shame on me for not checking their website every minute, and God forbid they give us any hint that their trains could be running anytime soon. We're just suppose to pay the money and accept awful service. Right? Wrong! We paying customers have a right to be upset. It's been nearly 2 weeks since Sandy, get a clue NJ Transit !!
Rebecca November 12, 2012 at 07:37 PM
I don't think anyone is blaming NJT for the accident. It's their failure to communicate with commuters. I've witnessed several completely idiotic incidents involving NJT since the hurricane, and all could have been avoided with clear announcements, employees answering their phones having relevant information, communication between the train staff and the stations, etc.
Frank Verderosa November 12, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Thankfully, I was skeptical of the idea that trains were going to be 'running' this morning. I kept an ear to the news and had heard about the bus accident. I also kept an eye on the my friends Facebook postings, and heard that trains were a mess. I think that was somewhat expected. I chose to wait it out. I had no pressing appointments to run in for- so I hedged my bets and went to the South Orange train station figuring the either a train or the 107X would get me in. The dispatcher for the bus said one would be arriving in 15 minutes... but a moment later, a train arrived. It took me 42 minutes to get to Penn. I agree that NJT has been a bit quiet about its progress... and it's been FAR from perfect (particularly getting home via the Port Authority Bus Terminal). All complaining aside- I truly hope there have been lessons learned here. From day 1, busses should have replaced trains at the stations to get people into the city- or to the next functioning train station. The LIRR has done this for as long as I can remember. I'm not sure what the NJT was thinking by having all those train commuters pour over to the existing bus lines.
Scott Greenstone November 12, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Bronwen Jones - I went to take the train. Was on the platform waiting when an NJT rep told me I was wrong and there are no trains today. Told me to take the bus. I am not blaming NJT for the accident or the traffic, but if they had given me the correct information I would have stayed on the platform and waited for a train that happened to be only two stops away. I am not whining, I am trying to hold someone accountable for incompetency.
Butch Wynegar November 12, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Some guy in an NJT hat tells you to take a bus and you do and you blame them for your choice. Take it like a man buddy and don;t forget NJT has the right to exclude specific people from riding the train. I'd count among them folks who threaten to sue at the drop of a hat.
Barry & Maureen Lowe November 12, 2012 at 09:51 PM
my husband was told the same thing - that trains weren't running and to get on the bus, so he did. Took him 4.25 hours to get to work too... While a law suit might be extreme, I understand where the frustration is coming from. NJ Transit does need to be held accountable for their countless errors and what seems like a complete lack of consideration for its riders. An apology would be a nice start...
daisy wilson November 12, 2012 at 10:06 PM
"Some guy" is an NJ Transit employee who is there to assist paying customers with transit information. He was giving inaccurate information with conviction and he should be held accountable.
jwolfe November 12, 2012 at 10:37 PM
i'm just curious who you meant by "NJT has the right to exclude specific people from riding the train". i have no agenda was just simply curious
Rob Glickman November 13, 2012 at 01:41 AM
Scott - well said! In the end, accountability is the key and in such a charged situation already, incompetence is just not acceptable. NJT is dealing with real people and their livelihood - this isn't just some random train delay - keep up the fight!
Matthew Schwartz November 13, 2012 at 01:52 AM
I'm with Greenstone. NJT provided no information during the last two weeks, making it very difficult to plan ahead. This is inexcusable. They have a website. They send email blasts whenever there is a delay, yet they said nothing about when service would be back on our line until late last night. Why did they not tell us sooner? They treat their ridership like garbage, yet people will rush to defend them. Stockholm syndrome at work.
SS November 13, 2012 at 01:52 AM
I follow NJ Transit on Twitter and I have signed up for their Transit alerts. They did send an email update yesterday informing about re-starting of train service on the M&E line and provided a link to a pdf file with the modified schedule.
David Gold November 13, 2012 at 03:43 PM
What?!?!?!
David Gold November 13, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Exactly!
KIM November 13, 2012 at 03:46 PM
I got an alert from NJ transit on Sun eve that trains were up & running. Checked the modified schedule & went to Maplewood train station to catch the 8:45a train yesterday. NJT had an employee there who reassured passengers that a train would arrive in 5 mins. Sure enough, the train showed up, it was nearly empty & the ride into NYC was short & sweet. I had the same good experience today & I think NJT has done a good job keeping us informed. Can't say the same for PSE&G, but I think NJT deserves some credit for communicating problems, providing alternatives (like the free buses to Liberty State Park ferry) & placing employees at the stations. I hope everyone's commutes get better as the week progresses.
David Gold November 13, 2012 at 03:47 PM
You completely missed the point. See below...
Bea Locke-Finkel November 13, 2012 at 11:54 PM
I couldn't agree more.
Steve Mershon November 14, 2012 at 02:19 AM
Contact Gov. Christie to let him know if NJ Transit is not living up to your expectations. He put plenty of pressure on the power companies, and he can do the same for NJ Transit (and he can also provide them with additional resources). Go here to contact the Governor: http://www.state.nj.us/governor/contact/
Lisa M November 15, 2012 at 03:51 PM
I have signed up for alerts from SO Patch (so I was aware trains would be running the night before, plenty of time to prepare a commute). However when my husband went to the train station, the employee informed him "he has yet to see a train so far this morning". Far different from THEY AREN'T RUNNING. So my husband made the choice to take a bus and yes, it took him 5 hours to get into work that morning. He didn't complain and stayed late to work and took a nice quick train home that evening (and has been taking the train all week with no problem). Has anyone seen the pictures of what Sandy did to our trains? I find it AMAZING and phenomenal work that the trains were running at all 2 weeks after the storm. I am sure these people have been working around the clock to get whiny commuters back to their easy commute with this as thanks. People, it was their first morning back working - I'm sure there was some mis-communication within NJ Transit. All in all I think they have done a great job in getting trains back up. My husband has never been MORE grateful for our trains after a week on that awful bus, with up to 7 hour commutes in one day. People lost their houses, their lives and their jobs due to this storm. If all people lost was one morning at work they should be thankful!
daisy wilson November 18, 2012 at 02:51 PM
He didn't complain? Weird. I agree with the guy who said it's the Stockholm syndrome in effect!

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