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How NYC’s Summer of Hell Kickoff Went

Long Island Rail Road usher Jeff Carter aides a passenger at Penn Station on Monday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

New York City commuters embarked on the dreaded “summer of hell” Monday with the first day of track repairs at Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan. The result: not quite as hellish as a series of train derailments (and the subsequent gloating of a Chicago mayor) might lead you to expect.

Monday was the first of 44 days of reduced train service at Penn Station, and the three railroads that use it — the Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit and Amtrak — have cut back their schedules, made cancellations and rerouted trains to facilitate emergency work on the station’s tracks, the New York Times reports. Many commuters left home early to try out new routes, and the stations were “covered with signs and … staffed by transit workers ready to offer guidance,” according to the paper.

“This has been the best commuting day of my life so far,” one commuter told the Times, adding that “everybody is very wary; this is only day one.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was less cautiously optimistic.

“We’ve done everything you can possibly do short of call in the military with some type of parachuting ability,” he said, according to the paper.

Some commuters broadcast their relief on Twitter.

But the day was not without bumps. Many weary commuters missed connections or had to wait on trains running far behind schedule.

Some commuters opted to circumvent the station altogether.

Still others opined that Penn Station had actually been hell for a long time.

Day one down — only 43 to go.

Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian.

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Tags: new york citytransit agenciescommuting