Friday, January 20, 2012

A PATH Commute To Hell and Back, Courtesy of a Trespasser

You know your commute isn't going to go well when you get informed that there's a trespasser incident. More often than not, that means a fatality, but that wasn't exactly the case today. Someone apparently got into the PATH tunnels that run from New Jersey to 33rd Street around 9th Street. That forced a shutdown of those lines, and meant that commuters had to look to the WTC service or take NJ Transit or the ferry to get between Hoboken/Newark and midtown Manhattan.

Well, service and safety at WTC was no where near what it should have been in response to the ongoing situation on the other line.

In fact, it was a disaster as the photos show. Cops finally caught the trespasser, but the damage was done - and not just to the commuters to Midtown.

There were thousands of people trying to get out of the PATH station at Vesey Street, and they simply couldn't get up the bank of escalators (PATH Hill). PATH officials shut down the escalators because there was no place for the people to go.

However, the reason that there was no place for people to go was because no one was directing people that were attempting to get into the station to move all the way over to their right. Instead of trying to orderly shift everyone over so that outbound commuters could clear the station and make for a safer condition, the clogged entrance blocked everyone from moving.

This was a serious safety concern and while some Port Authority cops were belatedly trying to move metal barriers around to shift incoming commuters over to the right, it was far too little too late.

Once the situation uptown was known, the WTC station should have been directing incoming passengers to move all the way over to the right and allow outbound (those coming into Manhattan) the right of way to clear the station. Every effort should have been made to prioritize egress from the station but instead we saw a mess.

And from the looks of it, that bodes poorly for any kind of real emergency at the station. The Port Authority must do a better job.

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