Li of Jersey City was heading toward the PATH train the
morning two years ago when the World Trade Center fell.
She was living in Brooklyn at the time and was in
Manhattan to take the train across the river to Exchange
Place, where she works as a computer programmer.
Last Sunday, Li, companion Frank Gottlieb of Jersey
City, and many other local residents who remembered the
terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 were waiting behind
a barrier in lower Manhattan for the World Trade Center
PATH train to start running again.
"I miss the older people that were working
there," Li said of the old World Trade Center
station, which had been out of service for two years.
"[I miss] taking the train, the vendors to whom I
used to say hello."
Sunday afternoon, Jersey City Mayor Glenn Cunningham,
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New Jersey Gov.
Jim McGreevey, and other dignitaries opened the new WTC
station and had seen the arrival of the first train from
New Jersey to terminate there in more than two years.
As the train rolled into the station, many of those in
the three cars that were occupied for the inaugural trip
were struck by the sight of Ground Zero, which can be
viewed from the train because the tunnel leading into
the station is incomplete. The cavernous space of
exposed rock was greeted with stunned disbelief and
David McQuillan of Vernon Township, N.J., a conductor on
that train, remarked that the ceremonial trip was an
honor and that it was a "way to get back to
normalcy." Later, at the press conference held in
the lobby area, a concrete open-air space, the wives of
three victims of the World Trade Center collapse and two
Port Authority police officers were honored on the
podium by Gov. McGreevey and Mayor Bloomberg for heroism
during and after Sept. 11, 2001. And a memorial plaque
dedicated to those who perished was placed at the side
of podium. "But we also come here today, on this
brisk autumn day, to feel the sunshine on our face, the
air in our lungs, the fellowship of one another,"
McGreevey said. "And we reflect what was lost.
Those individuals who saw that they had to assist other
individuals in need. And against their self-interest,
helped their fellow human beings."
One of those saluted on the podium was Christy Ferer
Levin, whose late husband Neil Levin, the then-executive
director of the Port Authority, was at a breakfast
meeting on the 106th floor of One World Trade Center
when the planes hit the tower. She saw the
rebuilt PATH station as the beginning of a rebirth of
Lower Manhattan and well as a technical marvel. The new
station, which is temporary, cost an estimated $323
million out of $566 million budgeted for the restoration
of PATH service to the World Trade Center site. The
station has been made more spacious to accommodate over
50,000 daily passengers, but at the present time it will
be without such amenities as air conditioning and
bathrooms. These won't be available until the permanent
station opens in 2006.
For the first time in PATH system history, Metrocards
will be utilized for payment of fares from the World
Trade Center side, as new machines have been installed
with turnstiles to accept only per-per-ride Metrocards.
Also, there was a noticeable absence of any stores or
even portable vendors except for the Hudson News
newsstand that greets people as they go through the
On Monday morning, the PATH World Trade Center train got
a workout. But some of the original commuters did not
return right away. Before the station's closing, it was
estimated by Port Authority that 67,000 daily commuters
were boarding PATH trains to World Trade Center. That
total went down to 20,000 to 30,000 passengers Monday.
However, the traffic will be increasing in the within
the next month as NY Waterways, which had expanded ferry
service from Exchange Place and Hoboken to accommodate
those passengers going to Lower Manhattan after 9/11,
will be cutting back service. At 9:45 a.m. in the
Hoboken station, one commuter asked another if this was
World Trade Center train. "Surreal, isn't it?"
he said. "Very surreal, to say the very