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Commuters rush back to PATH They are returning faster than expected.

 Wednesday, November 25, 2003 Newark Star Ledger

It was only the first day's count, but a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official said yesterday (Nov. 25) that about 20,000 PATH commuters used the rebuilt World Trade Center station on Monday (Nov. 24), eclipsing expectations, according to this report by Ron Marsico that appeared in the Star-Ledger. "We were extremely grateful to see that many people back," said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the bi-state agency that runs PATH. "And it just shows the importance of bringing transportation back to Lower Manhattan."

Port Authority officials originally predicted it would take weeks, or even months, for 20,000 to 30,000 daily commuters to return to the station, which was used by more than 65,000 commuters a day before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks destroyed the entire World Trade Center complex. The temporary station can handle 50,000 daily riders. A permanent station is scheduled to open in late 2006.

Some of PATH's ridership came at the expense of NY Waterway, which over the last 26 months ferried thousands of stranded rail commuters into Lower Manhattan. On Monday, NY Waterway ferried 13,586 people into Lower Manhattan between 6 and 9 a.m., down from 16,033 passengers who used the ferry the previous Monday, said Pat Smith, a spokesman for NY Waterway. "That's a little less than expected," Smith said of the drop in ridership. "It'll take awhile to sort out."

After Sunday's emotional reopening of the $323 million station, the first day of commuting was marked with more poignant reflections, but a far quicker pace as most riders rushed to their jobs after glancing around the new confines.

Several commuters interviewed used the same phrase, "Glad to be back," and immediately recognized that the huge bank of new escalators is in exactly the same spot as in the old station. "I think it's wonderful that they rebuilt it as fast as they did and as well as they did," said Jovi Tenev, 50, a lawyer from Princeton Junction, who lingered awhile on Monday to look into the stark pit of Ground Zero. Tears welled in his eyes as he recalled that one of his law partners, Glenn Winuk of Long Island, a volunteer firefighter, was killed in the collapse of the South Tower. "It's a testament to what this country is about," Tenev said of the new station. "We continue. We don't forget. But we continue."

Jeff Girod, 35, of Plainfield, a human resources representative, was impressed as he walked through the station after his first PATH ride. "It's amazing," he said. Girod has watched the rebuilding from his World Financial Center office that overlooks the 16-acre Ground Zero site. "There's still people I hear say, 'How can you stand to look? Isn't it depressing?'" said Girod, who offers a simple answer. "You're part of the rebirth." (The preceding report by Ron Marsico appeared in the Star-Ledger Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2003.)


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