PATH's strike ridership rose 3: PATH Trains Hudson Tubes Hudson & Manhattan RR

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    'Calm After the Storm' Greets Commute Back into Manhattan

By SHANNON D. HARRINGTON, STAFF WRITER December 27, 2005

New Jerseyans had their first normal commute to Manhattan in four days on Friday, as more than 33,000 striking transit workers returned to work and restarted the city's buses and subways. Commercial vehicles and people driving into the city solo could again enter Manhattan during the morning rush. And with subway tunnels into Penn Station again reopened, train passengers didn't have to endure long lines just to get into the station. With city offices emptying out for the holidays, normal was an understatement, transit agencies said. "This is the calm after the storm," said Dan Stessel, a spokesman for NJ Transit, whose customer service representatives spent the last three days helping bus and train passengers navigate Manhattan without New York Transit subways or buses.

The Port Authority - which during the strike operated PATH shuttle trains between 33rd Street and the World Trade Center Station to make up for some of the lost subway service - continued the shuttles through 10 a.m. Friday.

Port Authority officials say the PATH system, which normally shuttles people between New Jersey and New York, appears to have broken ridership records during the strike. More than 295,000 trips were made on the system Thursday, the busiest day during the strike, Coleman said. About 137,000 of those trips originated at the 33rd Street or World Trade Center stations.

Prior to the strike, the highest one-day trip total ever recorded was 271,000 in October 2000, Coleman said, although he said the bi- state agency can't say definitively if records were set this week because data is not available from the system's earlier years.

New York transit workers, who walked off the job shortly after 3 a.m. Tuesday amid stalled contract talks, returned after the Transport Workers Union Local 100 agreed to resume talks with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Because the strike violated New York's Taylor Law, union members were being docked two days' pay for every day on strike. A Brooklyn judge also levied $1 million-a-day fines against TWA Local 100 and was threatening jail time for union leaders. The union has appealed the fines. The strike ended despite the fact that the two parties hadn't resolved one of the biggest sticking points, proposed pension changes that would require workers to pay more into their pensions and retire at 62 to qualify for full benefits. Transit workers now qualify for full retirement benefits at 55.

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