Emily GirschMay 26, 2017, 9:11 amJun 28, 2017, 4:52 pm

Local Essex leaders reject plans to redirect NJ Transit Midtown Direct to Hoboken

Trains will be diverted for 8 weeks this summer while Amtrak makes repairs to NY Penn Station

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It was a plan put in place to help make your commute smoother this summer as Amtrak makes repairs at New York Penn Station, but some community leaders in Essex County say the plan was made without their input — and was dropped on them without warning.

Thousands of commuters take the Morris-Essex line's Midtown Direct trains from South Orange into New York's Penn Station every morning. It's an easy ride that heads right into the city, but that's going to change this summer.

The governor announced earlier this week that the Midtown Direct trains will instead be diverted to Hoboken for eight weeks this summer while Amtrak makes repairs to Penn Station.

Now local leaders are urging NJ Transit and the governor to consider alternative plans.

In a letter to the governor, the transportation commissioner, the NJ Transit executive director, Maplewood Mayor Victor De Luca and South Orange Village President Sheena Collum object to the decision made to redirect trains to Hoboken this summer.

The decision was made as Amtrak works to make repairs to its tracks and switches at New York's Penn Station in light of recent derailments.

Gov. Chris Christie says that upon arriving in Hoboken, riders can then take PATH trains or ferries, which will cross-honor NJ Transit fares. He also says fares will be discounted by as much as 63 percent during the eight weeks that the repairs are happening.

But local leaders say the decision will disrupt the personal and professional lives of thousands of people and the discounts will "not make up for the missed time with their families and the negative impacts on their business dealings."

They want to know why they were not consulted before the decision was made and were "kept in the dark by an agency that is known for its terrible record of communication and transparency."

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