The old-fashioned Hoboken train terminal reopened its waiting room Tuesday after three months of well, waiting. NJ Transit Executive Director James Weinstein held a meet and greet with passers by on Monday to kick off the re-opening as well as answer questions. Certain parts of the terminal saw five feet of water from Hurricane Sandy, which deposited up to 18 inches of mud.
The terminal (which sees an estimated 50,000 plus commuters daily) has been without heat, without working bathroom facilities and even without electric power causing trains to run on diesel.
Despite the now working heat and the re-opening of The Coffee Shop, Weinstein said Tuesday, “We’ve still got a ways to go.”
Weinstein and NJ Transit spokesman John Durso Jr. passed out coupons thanking people for their patience and offering a free cup of coffee until Friday.
The 103-year-old terminal is considered a milestone in American transportation development, combining rail, ferry, and streetcar service, and later bus and lightrail. The skylight in the main waiting room is made of tiled Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass. Back in September, Paul Somerville, chairman of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, spoke about the historic value of the terminal at a City Council meeting. He said an application had been submitted to get the terminal national landmark status, a status given to the Washington Monument and the Statue of Liberty.
“If I opened in 1910, you’d have to treat me gently too” – James Weinstein
“We are working with a historic preservation company to restore the benches,” Weinstein said.
The benches are currently enclosed in wood casing, while they are treated for mold.
“We’ve kept the facility closed until we were confident that mold was no longer an issue,” said Weinstein.
Weinstein added, “The terminal opened around 1910. If I opened in 1910, you’d have to treat me gently too.”
Running on diesel
Durso said Monday that an interruption at a substation in Kearny has caused electric power issues. “There are normal electric trains running on diesel, and when they run on diesel they run slower, so we need to adjust all of the schedules,” said Durso.
There are also generators still running in the terminal. “We are using equipment we normally would not be using,” he added.
In addition to the electrical issues, the entire heating system was completely destroyed in the storm. A train was opened up on the tracks and used as a waiting room so passengers would not have to sit in the terminal waiting room.
“Slowly but surely we are working to bring this beautiful station back to full use,” said Weinstein. “There is still a lot of work to do.”
Amanda Palasciano may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.