6 Struggles of a NJ Transit Commuter to NYC



Hello from Peppercomm’s only commuting intern! My name is Madison (Maddy) Lehman and I am a rising senior at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. I am from New Jersey and love taking trips to New York City, so I have spent many times on the wonderful transportation system called NJ Transit.

My father has been using this system for about 25 years now. As I was growing up, he always came home with funny stories about his commute to work.. Now that I’m older, I have been able to experience these struggles with him as I’ve commuted to the city for internships at the United Nations, a PR Agency and now for Peppercomm. Although these experiences can be frustrating, we’ve been able to find the humor in these experiences. I am hoping readers will take a look at this and relate as well. I also encourage anyone reading this to comment with commuting struggles they also experience!


  1. The Inevitable Delay

One thing that NJ Transit can be known for is delays. Sometimes, when you are sitting and staring at the board in Penn Station that announces the tracks, you get that sinking feeling in your stomach when your train is a 6:01 and they have announced the tracks for the 5:45, 5:55, 6:05 and 6:10. By this time, you usually realize that your train isn’t coming and you should probably catch the next one. They also have this system that tells you that your train is delayed when you’re already on the train and have no way to get off unless you want to pry open the doors and jump on the tracks.

  1. Roulette Game of Which Track

It’s the end of your day and you are standing amongst a sea of fellow travelers staring at the board that announces the tracks. You are nervously looking around at each track entrance, and then back at the board, and then back at the track entrances that surround you. You never know if you will have to run across the station or if the right track will conveniently be next to you. It’s a fun guessing game each day to see if you are lucky enough to stand near your track.

  1. The Stampede

After you have played the roulette game, you have to experience the stampede of bodies that flock to the train entrance’s door. The stampede could be likened to a fight to the Cornucopia in The Hunger Games. It’s every person for themselves here. You see parents dragging their children, travelers trying to get their suitcases through the crowd and a few people that are doing this for the first time looking scared and confused as they are pushed against their will towards the doors.


Once you’re on the train, the call of “TICKETS” is one that immediately results in fear. Everyone begins frantically emptying their bags searching for their ticket or their phone. Those with a phone begin feverishly attempting to open the NJ Transit application in order to avoid the wrath of the train conductor if your ticket is not loaded. You don’t want to be that commuter that receives a deathly look from the train conductor if your ticket is not downloaded on your device when they’re there. Unfortunately, this happens often since the trains don’t have Wi-Fi and there are various areas without data on the ride.

  1. The Mystery of the Doors

This is a problem that often keeps my father up at night. No one really knows where the train doors will stop when the train arrives. As the train arrives, everyone begins running around like a chicken with their head cut off trying to find a door in order to be one of the first on the train. If you are unfortunate enough to be one of those that are far from a door, you may have to stand for some of the train ride or be stuck next to “That Guy” (see below).

  1. “That Guy”

Sometimes you wind up sitting next to who I like to call “That Guy.” “That Guy” can encompass a lot of people. It can be the person that spreads their legs as wide as they can in the tiny seat next to you, resulting in you spending most of the ride hanging on the side of your chair. They can also be that person that is playing electronic music very loudly or speaking loudly on the phone about the cream cheese bagel they are craving on your 7 a.m. train. These are just a few examples of “That Guy,” but there are many more. You will usually know when you’re next to “That Guy” after the first 5 minutes of your trip. If possible, try to find a new seat when you realize this.


By: Madison Lehman

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