'Summer of Hell' at Penn Station off to smooth start, officials say

The so-called "Summer of Hell" is off to a smooth start. Officials say repairs are running ahead of schedule during the first week of the repairs at the busy transit hub. NY1's Jared Smith filed the following report.

One week down, seven more to go.

The Summer of Hell started rather quietly at Penn Station this week. According to transit officials, ridership was down 8 percent and trains were running on schedule more than 90 percent of the time.

"So far this week, I haven't noticed too much change with what they are saying," said one commuter. "The delays haven't been too bad. I guess people are catching on with all the news, taking other ways. I haven't seen much of a problem yet."

"We haven't had any delays yet, but I know people that have, and it's not a good time," said another.

Amtrak says they were fortunate that no major infrastructure disruptions occurred this week, which allowed repairs to continue slightly ahead of schedule.

Transit officials also say the cooperation and preparation from commuters has played a major role.

"We've had a very good week greatly in part because of their patience," said Scot Naparstek, the COO of Amtrak. "People came in prepared."

"We want to thank all of our customers, the way they planned. Many of them commuted different times of day than they normally do," said MTA Chairman Joe Lhota. "We knew this was going to be difficult, and we're going to get through it together."

Meanwhile, Amtrak officials were asked Friday if they think these repairs may be completed ahead of the Labor Day deadline, which would make the Summer of Hell more like a month or two of minor inconvenience. And while they're happy with the progress, they say it's still too soon to tell and put an end date on things. So just like commuters, they're taking things day to day, week to week, hoping for no major issues.

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