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National

Commuter Train Crash In Hoboken, N.J., Disrupts Commute Into Manhattan

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

New Jersey commuters face an extended mess. They will have to adjust their routines for some time after a train crash killed one person, injured more than 100 and damaged a terminal in Hoboken. At the moment of that crash, Sally Cummings was on her way to catch a train.

SALLY CUMMINGS: I was three blocks from the station when, suddenly, a hundred people were coming toward me.

INSKEEP: Now she's one of thousands of people who will need to find alternate ways to work. NPR's Jasmine Garsd reports.

MICHAEL DEFUSCO: Growing up in central New Jersey, you would come to Hoboken. And you were only a step into Manhattan. So of course, you would take the PATH train, and it was the easiest way to get there.

JASMINE GARSD, BYLINE: That's Councilman Michael DeFusco. He represents downtown Hoboken. He says the PATH train connects New Jersey to Manhattan.

DEFUSCO: It's more than just the lifeblood of this community. It's what keeps our businesses alive and what keeps residents able to get to their jobs every day.

GARSD: Back in 2012, that life force was cut off. It took months for the PATH train services to go back to normal after Hurricane Sandy. Hoboken residents and businesses took a big hit.

DEFUSCO: You can throw a stone from Hoboken and hit the West Village in Manhattan. Yet it would take you 45 minutes to an hour on a good day after Hurricane Sandy to get home.

GARSD: Sally Cummings says after the hurricane and without PATH trains, the commute could be a nightmare.

CUMMINGS: I complained the entire time (laughter).

GARSD: But Cummings says this time around, she has no complaints.

CUMMINGS: I was really grateful - so grateful.

GARSD: PATH was back up and running just in time for the evening commute. That's in part because the area it runs through was not damaged by the crash. But also...

CUMMINGS: Incredibly, New Jersey Transit just had bus after bus taking up all the slack. So I don't know where they got the drivers on the spot, but I really can't complain. It's extraordinary.

GARSD: Still, for all the relief over an easy commute, there was a sense of quiet shock throughout this community. Councilman DeFusco says he's waiting to hear what the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation reveals. For now, he's at least glad people can come back home at the end of the day.

Jasmine Garsd, NPR News, Hoboken. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.