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Port Authority: Make Alternate Plans In Case Hoboken, Jersey City PATH Service Continues

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- PATH train riders had to scramble to find another way to get home Tuesday, as service from Hoboken and Jersey City to New York remained suspended through the evening rush hour due to power cable issues.

The Port Authority said Tuesday evening that crews hope service will be restored by the time of the Wednesday morning rush hour, but conceded that it may not be. Commuters were advised to make alternate plans in case the outage continued Wednesday morning.

PATH crews were to work through the night to restore service, the Port Authority said in a news release.

As CBS 2's Dick Brennan reported, the gates were down, and trains were nowhere to be found at the 33rd Street PATH station Tuesday afternoon because of cable problems. Bright orange paperboard signs were mounted on the shuttered roll-down gates reading: "PATH station temporarily closed due to Service Disruption. Do not enter."

"It's crazy. I'm from Newark. I've never been here before," said Lilly Furquan. "This is like an adventure for me."

Commuter Patricia Kyle said the PATH is usually "quick" and "reliable," but lately it has been just the opposite.

PATH service was suspended through the evening rush from Hoboken to 33rd Street and Journal Square to 33rd Street due to "power cable issues," leaving thousands of riders trying to find a way back across the Hudson River.

Both lines carry approximately 130,000 weekday riders (or trips), according to the Port Authority.

Smartphones were not useful in directing people on finding the way to go, so commuters got directions the old-fashioned way. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey told people they had to go to Penn Station, or schlep down to the World Trade Center station on the E Train and take the PATH from there.

PATH Outage
PATH trains to and from Hoboken and Jersey City were suspended at 33rd Street during the evening rush on Tuesday, Sept. 23. (Credit: Billie Rama/CBSNewYork)

"At least we know what to do instead of just standing here twiddling our thumbs," said commuter Rob McPhaul.

But getting directions to go elsewhere was not enough to assuage commuters' annoyance.

"This is unbelievable," said commuter Alphonse Van Woerkom. "because Sunday, it took me two and a half hours to get to back Jersey City from Manhattan."

PATH Tunnel Damage
Damage caused by an electrical fire in the PATH Train system on Sunday, Sept. 21. (Credit: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey)

Sunday is when all this trouble actually began. The problems stem from a fire that broke out in a PATH tunnel that afternoon at 19th Street and Sixth Avenue in Chelsea, the Port Authority said.

PATH Service From Hoboken, Jersey City Suspended Again

On Tuesday morning, there was a smoky condition in the same spot as Sunday.

"A preliminary review has determined a repair splice between replacement cable and older cable resulted in a smoky condition this morning in the same area as Sunday's problem, leading PATH officials to cut power and service as a matter of safety," the Port Authority said in a news release.

"Here we go again," said Eugene Johnson of Jersey City. "Every day the same -- this morning too."

During Tuesday morning's rush hour, some PATH riders only learned trains weren't running after arriving at the Journal Square station.

PATH Service From Hoboken, Jersey City Suspended

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said he understands the infrastructure problems, but not the lack of communication.

"I give them an 'F' because we got nothing," he told WCBS 880's Peter Haskell. "The fact that people find out about it so late all the time repeatedly, it's frustrating."

The fire also disrupted service on the same lines overnight Sunday and all morning Monday.

"The Port Authority regrets the significant inconvenience riders have endured since Sunday afternoon," the agency said. "Much of the cabling in the Manhattan tunnel dates back decades and PATH officials are exploring ways to accelerate updating the miles of old wiring to help ensure more reliable service, while minimizing the reductions in service that will be needed to make the upgrades."

The Port Authority said much of its cable wiring dates back decades. The authority said it is trying to find a way to update miles of wiring.

But the repeated problems were enough to infuriate commuters.

"You've got to fix the problem. How many times are you going to have to do this every week?" a man said. "It's insane."

The shutdown even meant at least one business meeting had to be reorganized.

"We didn't know it was closed, so all of a sudden, we got here for a meeting in Jersey City – and we're going to have a conference call," said Bill Redmond of Marlboro, New Jersey. "That's what we're going to do."

NJ TRANSIT bus and rail, as well as NY Waterway, are cross-honoring PATH tickets.

The Newark-World Trade Center line and the Hoboken to World Trade Center line are operating on normal schedules.

For more information, click here.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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