Do you have plans this weekend? If you're of the bridge-and-tunnel ilk by way of train, they may come to a screeching halt when the clock strikes midnight this Saturday.
No, this isn't the beginning of the plot for some urban Cinderella story, but one of travelers' worst nightmare: a NJ Transit rail strike.
NJ Transit unions are warning riders of a looming transit strike or lockout that could begin at 12:01 a.m. Sunday morning.
General chairman of United Transportation Union Local 60, Stephen Burkert, told NorthJersey.com that the unions "offered to talk to them about how to do a shutdown in an orderly way, so that people wouldn't get stranded," but NJ Transit "refused to talk" to the union.
The strike or lockout comes after a five-year deadlock between unions and NJ Transit regarding contracts, health insurance, and pay increases.
Furthermore, NJ Transit recently passed new regulations that would limit political speech and any ads that criticize NJ Transit. Many believe that this infringes on First Amendment rights.
If the NJ Transit workers strike or NJ Transit or Governor Christie enforce a lockout of transit workers, many people traveling in the tri-state area could be affected, not merely residents of NJ.
For one, the Big East college men's basketball finals are being held at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, which would cause an increase in mass transit ridership from other states as well.
Unfortunately, the NJ Strike could affect anyone traveling in the Northeast Corridor, even Amtrak riders, as the NJ Transit trains could be stopped "someplace along the corridor," stated Burkert.
To clear this up for you: Amtrak runs through New York Penn as well as Newark Penn. If there's a strike, nobody's moving train traffic. Amtrak gets to Newark Penn behind a NJ Transit train, well, there's nobody moving it. That's how it gets screwed up.
Same goes for LIRR-- not all of it, but certainly some routes.
Burkert stated, "we understand the hardships a strike would cause. The last thing we want is a strike."
Even NJ Transit's acting executive director, Dennis Martin, stated the "truth is our many decades of experience with railroad employees has never suggested they would intentionally inconvenience customers and put them in harm's way by leaving them stranded."
Regardless, the strike or lockout could happen as early as this weekend.
So what should you do if you're a commuter or traveling using NJ Transit this weekend?
The NJ Transit has issued a critical service advisory, offering alternate mass transit resources, such as regional park-ride services through buses, ferries, and alternate sources, and use of enhanced NJ Transit New York bus services.
Furthermore, NJ Transit will be cross-honoring any rail tickets on bus services and light rail lines. NJ Transit rail tickets will also be cross-honored on some private bus carriers, PATH trains, and all NY Waterway services.
Cross-honoring rail tickets on bus services is cool and all, but for many commuters with more than half a month left on their monthly passes, well, switching up from the train to the bus isn't exactly fun. Especially when there are thousands of others doing the exact same thing.
Hopefully, an agreement will be reached between the unions and NJ Transit, though we're not entirely optimistic.[via NorthJersey.com] [Feature Image Courtesy IR-Q.com]