The Great Blackout of 2003

NEW YORK – A sweltering heat welcomed passengers to Penn Station Friday (Aug. 15) as power remained out after the nation’s largest blackout.

The massive power outage left millions without power and thousands more stranded when transportation unable to operate. Commuter rail and subways shut down leaving residents without travel options.

And when power was partially restored, travel was slow and fewer trains, particularly on New Jersey Transit lines, operated. Within days, however, rail service was back to normal, with passengers being whisked across the Northeast on assorted subways and commuter trains.

“I would like to thank our customers for their extraordinary patience last night – and their decision to listen to the advice of Governor McGreevey by restricting their travel today – as we worked to recover as quickly as possible,” said N.J. Transit Executive Director George D. Warrington. “Now, thanks to the hard work and dedication of thousands of our employees, we continued operating while making a quick recovery from a tremendously difficult situation.”

On Friday (Aug. 15), with commercial power still out in New York, Amtrak offered limited service between Penn Station and points south along the Northeast Corridor, including Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.  With their computers dark and ticket printers idle, Amtrak personnel in New York wrote tickets by hand.

Operations between Boston and New York resumed Friday night with the departure from Boston of the Federal at 10:00 p.m. The train arrived in Washington 10 minutes early this morning.

On a typical weekday, more than 125 Amtrak trains arrive and depart New York Penn Station, and in 2002, Amtrak carried more passengers between New York and Washington than all airlines combined.

– The Cross-Tie