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The Embarrassment of Penn Station in Newark

The Embarrassment of Penn Station in Newark

I travel on the Acela (the US high speed train) anywhere between Boston and Washington, DC. First class is equal to airline first class, but with far more room. The rest of the train is all business class. The entire fleet will be changed and improved over the next two years. And while it doesn’t travel as fast as European and Asian high speed trains, the service is FAR superior. (Trust me, I’ve been on them all, and I’m tired of sticking my leg out to stop a food cart being hurried through the aisles by an attendant who dislikes passengers.)

Amtrak carries about two-thirds of all northeast corridor traffic on this and its slower, local trains. That’s more than all the airlines, combined.  There are Acela clubs, and the one in Manhattan is better than 90% of all the airline clubs. However, there is one exception.

Penn Station, in Newark, New Jersey (the eleventh most populous state in the union), the only stop in the state other than a metro park, is a pit, a horrible, stinking (literally), semi-dangerous place. The rest rooms are a horror show. There is no club here! There are armed transit police all over. That’s because there are a lot of people with clear mental health issues roaming around. They curse, relieve themselves in corners and on platforms, scream, and often threaten people. The police do a great job, and are very patient in my observation, even when confronted.

But for Newark, Amtrak, and New Jersey, this is a disgusting, embarrassing place. They all ought to be ashamed, and there ought to be an initiative to take care of these poor disturbed individuals, get them some help, clean up the place, and make it safe for people who are commuting or taking longer trips. Who the hell is responsible for tolerating this mess? Even the police dogs who assist seem especially tough and hardened.

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

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