|NYC COMMUTERS EXPERIENCE
FEWER DELAYS JERSEY CITY, N.J.
September 25, 2001
JERSEY CITY, N.J. --
Transportation officials backed off their initial plan to
reopen the New Jersey-bound lanes of the Holland Tunnel
yesterday (September 24), but commuters still managed to get across the Hudson River with
fewer delays than they suffered last Monday.
In attempts to ease the commuting nightmares caused by the
terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center two weeks ago,
officials launched several stop-gap measures yesterday. They
provided new ferry connections for bus commuters from
Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties and an extra NJ Transit
train heading directly into Manhattan from Union and Essex
"It's a very fluid situation and things are going to keep
changing," said state
Transportation Commissioner James Weinstein. "We're going
to have to be nimble
enough to respond to this in a time frame that's going to have
to be extraordinary."
Early yesterday, officials had been planning to open the
Holland Tunnel at 3 p.m. for
motorists coming out of Manhattan. But by 9 a.m., they
reconsidered and quickly issued notices that the tunnel would
remain closed indefinitely.
"They're evaluating it, and it's a day-to-day
decision," said Steve Coleman, spokesman for the Port
Authority of New York and New Jersey. "The main concern
was how would traffic get to the tunnel without causing
gridlock on the streets in the surrounding area."
While the Holland Tunnel has been shut down, the George
Washington Bridge and Lincoln Tunnel have become clogged. Last
Monday, for example, bumper-to-bumper traffic stretched from
the Lincoln Tunnel all the way back to New Jersey Turnpike
Interchange 14 in Newark, more than a two-hour grind.
"Last Monday sent a message to motorists that using the
Lincoln Tunnel during rush
hour was not the most effective way to get into the city, they
have to use mass transit, to use carpools and to change their
working hours," New Jersey Turnpike Executive Director
Edward Gross said. "Nobody wants to spend three-quarters
of their day on the roads."
Yesterday, delays at the Lincoln topped off at about an hour
and were less than that at the George Washington Bridge.
"Other than a little surge, the delays were pretty
typical for this time of year," said Bob Glantzberg,
operations supervisor at TRANSCOM, a coalition of
transportation agencies that gathers traffic information.
Coleman said the delays at the bridge and Lincoln Tunnel
resulted from security checks on trucks heading into
Manhattan, rather than from increased volume because of the
Holland Tunnel's closing.
For example, the George Washington Bridge carried 46,933
vehicles yesterday between 6 and 10 a.m., compared to about
52,000 on a typical weekday before the Sept. 11 attack, said
Coleman. The Lincoln Tunnel, meanwhile, handled 16,037
vehicles during yesterday's morning rush, about 2,500 fewer
Officials speculated that the relocation
and shutdown of firms in Lower Manhattan that were devastated
by the attack was part of the reason for the drop in traffic
at the crossings. But they also have seen increases in people
taking trains and ferries across the Hudson River.
The new bus-ferry link operating out of Liberty State Park
carried about 2,400 people, according to NJ Transit
spokeswoman Penny Bassett-Hackett. The NJ Transit, Academy Bus
and Coach USA/Suburban Transit bus lines that stop along Route
9 and used to go to Lower Manhattan instead dropped riders off
at the ferry dock at Jersey City. From there, bus passengers
were taken by ferry at no extra charge to Pier 16, near the
South Street Seaport in Manhattan.
Meanwhile, other ferry services have thrived in the wake of
the Twin Towers disaster. NY Waterways, for example, has seen
its number of riders jump by almost half, from 34,000 daily
trips before the attack to more than 50,000 a day.
NY Waterways has even rented some boats to companies that want
to secure ferry
service across the Hudson for their employees -- a practice
that has upset some
commuters who say they have had to wait as long as 20 minutes
for ferries open to the public. The chartered ferry business
has spilled over and members of the Yacht Owners Association
of New York have leased their vessels for use as ferries.
"Any business that has had to relocate to Jersey is
finding the trip is taking a toll on its workers, so they're
looking to provide alternative means of getting to work,"
said Frank Giordano of the yacht association.