NYC commuters brace for a ‘summer of hell’

NEW YORK — A massive two-month repair project will launch Monday at the country’s busiest train station, temporarily exacerbating the daily commuting struggle during what New York’s governor has predicted will be a “summer of hell.”

But it’s only a stopgap measure against a root problem it won’t solve: that one of the world’s great cities increasingly seems unable to effectively transport its workforce.

At Penn Station, crowds of commuters fuming at frequent afternoon delays already wedge into narrow stairways down to the tracks, all for the privilege of standing in the aisles of packed trains for a 45-minute ride home. In the mornings, it can take 10 minutes just to climb a flight of stairs to the concourse.

The summer’s accelerated repair work, prompted by two derailments this spring, will close some of the station’s 21 tracks and require a roughly 20 percent reduction in the number of commuter trains coming in from New Jersey and Long Island. Amtrak also is reducing the number of trains it runs between New York and Washington and diverting some trains from Albany across town to Grand Central Terminal.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said in May that “it will be a summer of hell for commuters.” Around the same time, he wrote a letter to President Donald Trump asking for federal help and appealing to Trump’s New York roots.