Update, 11/30: New Jersey Transit sent the following email alert on Friday afternoon:
Starting Monday December 3, 2012, the Gladstone Branch of the Morris & Essex Lines will resume service between Gladstone and Hoboken, as well as between Gladstone and New York. Service along this rail line had been suspended due to the severe damage sustained during Hurricane Sandy.
When service is restored to the Gladstone Branch, NJ TRANSIT will resume its Midtown Direct service into New York and diesel trains into Summit and Hoboken. Gladstone Branch service will include two Midtown Direct trains during the morning and evening peak periods, with four additional trains serving Summit and/or Hoboken during each peak period. Click here for Gladstone Branch schedule.
Thursday's morning commute into Manhattan was "grueling," said David Kellyn, a West Orange resident who commutes from South Orange.
A line of passengers stretched from the tracks down the stairs and into the lobby on Thursday morning after a train was cancelled and another bypassed South Orange. However, NJ Transit says improvement is likely, as soon as Monday.
NJ Transit representatives described the issue as a "mechanical problem," in addition to an early-morning train being cancelled. In addition, overcrowding meant at least one additional train didn't stop in South Orange. One reader told South Orange Patch her "door to door" commute was two hours long.
NJ Transit officials explain one reason Thursday's trains "had no capacity" and bypassed South Orange was the Gladstone passengers. The Gladstone train line is out of service; those passengers are bussed to Summit, where they take the Morris & Essex line.
The good news, says NJ Transit, is the Gladstone line is expected to reopen on Monday.
The rail line is still working on a "modified schedule" after Hurricane Sandy.
At the same time, the agency continues to "assess the needs" of South Orange-based commuters after recent changes to the schedule.
As NJ Transit moves towards full-service restoration, commuters hope for improvement. "I can't understand why this allowed to go on," wrote Kellyn in an email. "It's unsafe and unpleasant, and both of those words are understatements."