Commuter complaints about closed train cars resurfaces –

Posted: Thursday, July 07, 2016

Sometimes, previous topics return to us like a boomerang.

Most recently that happened with a section of I-78 in Union County, which prompted four questions about when resurfacing would start, why it stopped, when it would start again and why work stopped again. The good news is that drivers have confirmed that paving work is underway.

Also back for a second look is an issue with closed rail cars on NJ Transit trains.

The topic was raised in April by a commuter who rode the northbound 5:17 p.m. Northeast Corridor train and reported that not all the rail cars were open to passengers, including the coveted Quiet Car. NJ Transit spokesman Jim Smith replied that those cars were supposed to be open unless circumstances don’t permit it.

But riders on other trains said they’ve encountered closed rail cars since then.



Ticked off about mass transit? Wondering about road construction? E-mail your questions to’s transportation expert Larry Higgs. He’ll answer your questions on Tuesdays and Thursdays on You can also Tweet @CommutingLarry.

One complaint came from a rider who said he takes NJ Transit trains several times a day and often encounters closed cars.

“Often times in the evenings, even after your article and spokesman Jim Smith stated the cars are supposed to be open, they remain closed,” a reader wrote.

A second rider included photographs of the two trains he rode, one being the 10:55 p.m. Main Line train from Hoboken to Clifton. The front half of that train was closed.

The other train was the 8:14 p.m. Northeast Corridor train, which had two cars closed. The problem was one of the closed cars was the one equipped with a bathroom, he said.

Q: Why are these cars still closed?

A: We asked NJ Transit officials and got a more detailed explanation. One issue is, these are not prime time, rush hour trains.

“The number of open cars depends on the time of day the train is in operation, peak vs. off-peak,” said Lisa Torbic , an NJ Transit spokeswoman. “The two trains that you mention are both off-peak trains, leaving the stations at 10:55 p.m. and 8:14 p.m., with fewer passengers than trains leaving at peak times.”

Logistically, it is easier for train crews to manage a few cars filled with people instead of many cars in a train with only a handful of passengers spread across them, she said. But Torbic said the original statement from April still stands.

“Rail Operations has instructed crews to keep all train cars open so long as conditions allow, and crews will open cars as the need for more seating presents itself,” she said.

Let us know whether those closed rail cars have re-opened for business.

Larry Higgs may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @commutinglarry. Find on Facebook.


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