Regular users of New York's embattled Penn Station don't need to be told about their daily travails. They might appreciate, but don't need, a behind-the-scenes tour to confirm what they already know. (If you haven't already had a guided behind-the-scenes tour of the station and the decaying Hudson River tunnels, well, you probably aren't a politician.) The latest beneficiaries learning what users already know are a group of New Jersey politicians, who got the royal treatment on Friday, May 12, according to reporting by Larry Higgs (contributions by Jonathan D. Salant and the Associated Press) for NJ Advance Media (and printed in the Star-Ledger, May 13.)  Their tour included riding in a special rail inspection car -- seats guaranteed -- equipped with floodlights to enable guests to observe conditions in the under-the-river tunnels, which were flooded in Hurricane Sandy more than four years ago.

"I call it frightening"

said State Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex). "In a regular passenger train you can't see what's surrounding you."  Duh.

"It's amazing that they actually get trains in and out"

said State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen," who went on to propose what she said was a solution: "What's important is Amtrak, NJ Transit, and the Long Island Rail Road come up with a schedule so riders know the dates and times when outages will take place." Presumably, Sen. Weinberg was referring to the planned reduction in service to be caused by Amtrak work beginning July 7, not outages resulting from unpredictable events such as train derailments, flooding, and the like.

"It's not pretty, it's chaotic and disorientating,"

said Sen. Joy Kyrillos (R-Monmouth). "When you get off a train, you don't know where you are." Well, regular riders figure it out, after a few hundred trips at least.

"Frankly, it's ugly and vulnerable, particularly the tunnels,"

said Assemblyman John McKeon (D-Bergen), who said "we saw it through the eyes of a commuter."