Hoboken PATH station restores service after Sandy flooding

HOBOKEN, N.J.–Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) commuters can finally return to a sense of normalcy three months after Hurricane Sandy made landfall.

PATH announced Jan. 30 that service from Hoboken and the World Trade Center would be restored for full weekday service. During the storm, over five feet of water burst through the elevator shaft and into the Hoboken PATH station, destroying underground electrical grids and left the vulnerable New Jersey commuter city flooded and in shambles.

Of Hoboken’s roughly 50,000 residents, over 56 percent  use public transportation, and suspended service left many people scrambling to find alternative ways to travel to midtown and lower Manhattan. What ensued were long lines and extensive commute times months after many other Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) stations, including tunnels under the East River that received extensive flooding, reopened.

Matt Critelli of Hoboken, N.J., echoed many frustrations of PATH commuters, not expecting service to be suspended months after Hurricane Sandy.

“I had no idea it would last as long as it did,” Critelli, 27, said as he exited the Hoboken PATH station. “I figured service would be down for two to three weeks. It seemed like they never had a timetable.”

Post-Sandy, Critelli had to take the ferry into Midtown, nearly tripling his commute time as well as emptying his wallet.

“It got pretty expensive,” he said. “It was mostly financially inconvenient.”

Joshua Josephson, also of Hoboken, N.J., works a block away from the World Trade Center, and relies heavily on the PATH to get to lower Manhattan daily. Like many other PATH riders, he did not understand why such a commuter-dependent community remained without its main transportation hub for so long.

“I don’t know what the procedures were (and) why Hoboken was the last to get full service,” Josephson, 27, said.

While weekday service has been fully restored, weekend riders still face closures. The PATH stations at Exchange Place and the World Trade Center remained closed on weekends as PATH crews continue repairs. According to the PATH website, the stations will not open for weekend service until next month.

And overnight service from Newark and World Trade Center is not expected to be open until March, the final piece that will restore PATH service to a pre-Sandy schedule.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie commended the work of PATH officials and the many riders who have endured the wait.

“PATH riders’ patience, understanding and flexibility under such difficult circumstances are great examples of how the people of this region respond in the face of tragedy, and today is another major step toward returning our daily lives and routines to normal,” he said in a Jan. 30 release.

If anything, many riders have gained a sense of appreciation for what was and essentially still remains a major transportation hub for commuters.

“I think a lot of us took the PATH for granted,” said Critelli. “After not having it for a while, we see how much we use it every single day and on the weekends.”