NEW YORK - Monday marked Day 1 of the "Summer of Hell" for Long Island Rail Road commuters impacted by track repairs at Penn Station.
"We thought and we planned for the worst -- we hoped for the best and we got the best," MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said, adding that the railroad must remain vigilant going forward.
Few, if any, delays were reported by rail riders who seemed pleasantly surprised the work hasn't caused a nightmare commute -- at least not yet.
"I think they did a good job, I was impressed," said Lucille Martinelli, of Seaford. "I was more nervous than anything."
To avoid potential delays, some LIRR monthly ticket holders said they took off-peak trains into and out of Penn Station. The only real complaint heard by Monday evening was that there seemed to be fewer empty seats for monthly commuters on connecting trains.
There are some alternatives being offered to help commuters make it through the work.
The LIRR says commuters can switch at Jamaica station and take the E train into Manhattan. They can also travel to lower Manhattan by catching the J or Z trains. The railroad is also encouraging riders to take the No. 7 train from Hunterspoint, and the B, D, N, Q, R and Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5 lines at Atlantic Terminal.
There will be free morning rush-hour subway transfers at key locations, but not during the evening rush. During the work, the LIRR is offering commuters a 25 percent discount if they decide not to go to Penn Station and instead go to Brooklyn, Hunterspoint Avenue or Long Island City, Queens.
The MTA is offering a temporary ferry service out of Glen Cove into Manhattan. The service sets sail at 6:10 a.m. and 6:35 a.m. and goes to Pier 11 and East 34th Street in Manhattan. It makes return trips from Manhattan at 4:30 p.m. and 6:20 p.m.
The trip from Manhattan to Glen Cove runs a little over an hour. It is being offered for monthly or daily LIRR ticket holders. The MTA is also running special ferry service from the Long Island City and Hunterspoint LIRR stations to East 34th Street.
MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota has asked commuters for "flexibility" and "patience" during the service disruptions.
A number of commuters told News 12 that a lot of people are away on vacation and many others took off Monday or worked from home to see how Day 1 would go.
The LIRR said all of its trains on all branches were on or close to schedule for the Monday evening rush.
Amtrak expects the work to be completed by Sept. 1.