It was not the "Summer from Hell" that some riders expected, but it was not a normal summer, either.  Riders on New Jersey Transit's Morris & Essex (M&E) Line and Gladstone Branch were effectively displaced from New York's Penn Station since July 10th, and sent to Hoboken instead. 

For older riders, the summer has brought a return to the commute of bygone days, before NJ Transit initiated Midtown Direct service to Penn Station in 1996.  There was a difference, though: Midtown Direct service attracted thousands of new riders to the M&E service area and those riders have swelled the ranks of Hoboken commuters, essentially doubling normal Hoboken ridership.

At this writing, the summer service pattern will continue for two more weeks.  It has gone smoothly, for the most part.  Still, it takes longer to get to Midtown Manhattan from Hoboken, because it is necessary to transfer to a PATH train or ferry to get there.

At an "Advocates' Roundtable" meeting on Wednesday, NJ Transit Executive Director Steven Santoro praised the affected riders for being "very, very patient" during the summer.  Advocates from the Lackawanna Coalition and the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers (NJ-ARP) agreed.

The major track work at Penn Station has also affected riders from Long Island, because Amtrak has been using high-numbered tracks at the station for some of its own trains and NJ Transit's.  These tracks are normally reserved for the Long Island Rail Road, so some LIRR trains were diverted to other terminals in Brooklyn and Queens.  Mark Epstein, Chair of the Long Island Commuters' Council, said: "I give the tip of the hat to the riders."

Amtrak owns Penn Station and its approach tracks, and there are reports that more track work will be needed next summer to bring the station and its approach tracks up to a state of good repair.  If that happens, the same riders will need to display more patience at that time.