Today, March 13th, I had a ticket for a 3:00 p.m. performance by the New Jersey Symphony at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, and I decided to go by train. I drove to the New Bridge Landing station, where I boarded Pascack Valley Line Train #2112, which departed at 12:45 p.m. and arrived at Secaucus at 1:12 p.m., giving me plenty of time to transfer to Northeast Corridor Train #7845, scheduled to depart at 1:23 p.m. The train operated a few minutes late, and we arrived at the New Brunswick station at 2:17 p.m., six minutes late. That was fine, as it takes about 10 minutes to walk to the State Theater, which didn’t open to the public until 2:30 p.m.
The concert featured Daniil Trifonov, a world-renowned Russian pianist, who played a new piano concerto written for him by Mason Bates. Interestingly, the concert began with the playing of the Ukrainian national anthem, with Daniil Trifonov appearing on the stage and applauding the performance of the anthem. The concert also featured several works by Tchaikovsky.
The concert was over about 4:55 p.m., and I walked back to the station, where I boarded Train #7852, scheduled to depart at 5:29 p.m. The train was precisely on time for the entire way, and we arrived at the Secaucus station on time at 6:20 p.m. This was particularly important to me, as I planned to connect with Pascack Valley Line Train #2123, scheduled to depart at 6:31 p.m. Eleven minutes is plenty of time to make the connection — if the Northeast Corridor Line train is on time. Especially on weekends, Northeast Corridor Line trains often operate late, and if the train were as much as eight minutes late, I likely would have missed my connecting Pascack Valley Line train. And the next Pascack Valley Line train does not depart Secaucus for another three hours! Thankfully, though, my Northeast Corridor Line train was on time, and I made my connection.
Both going to and coming from New Brunswick, the car that I rode in was quite full. Going down to New Brunswick, I couldn’t find a pair of seats to myself until we reached Metuchen. Coming back, I was able to secure a pair of seats for myself when I boarded in New Brunswick (although I had to walk to the next car to do so). I would estimate that, both ways, the train was filled to at least 75% of capacity. This clearly demonstrates that weekend ridership has begun to return to pre-pandemic levels. It’s a very different story, though, with ridership at peak commuting hours.