NYTimes.com Article: Rush Hour Returns in Force at Trade Center Rail Station
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Rush Hour Returns in Force at Trade Center Rail Station
November 24, 2003
By CHRISTINE HAUSER
Hundreds of commuters using the reopened PATH train station
restored rush-hour chaos to the site of the former World
Trade Center today for the first time since the terrorist
attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
"Here they come!" said the head of administration for PATH,
Linda Vespoli, watching as a crowd of commuters pushed
through the turnstiles into the Lower Manhattan station
after disembarking from New Jersey trains. "Welcome back
She greeted the incoming commuters to the station, built in
the foundation of the Trade Center, fielding questions
about schedules and fares, and handing out free pens and
business card holders that said "Remembering, Reconnecting,
"It's going to be a busy, big station," said one police
officer to another as they watched commuters flow through
The station was officially inaugurated on Sunday with a
ceremonial train ride by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New
York; Gov. James E. McGreevey of New Jersey, and Senators
Jon Corzine and Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey. Members
of victims' families also made the trip, as the group rode
aboard the last eight cars to leave the Trade Center
station on Sept. 11, 2001. After the ceremonial ride, the
link to New Jersey was opened to the public.
But as the workweek kicked off this morning, the gleaming
new PATH trains got down to fulfilling the real business of
the $323 million, 16-month restoration - serving as a vital
rail link between Lower Manhattan and New Jersey across the
A Port Authority spokesman, Steve Coleman, said traffic
flows would take some time to be restored to their
pre-Sept. 11 volumes. "We had 67,000 people," he said,
referring to daily volume before the attacks. "We are
expecting by the end of next year 20,000 to 30,000."
He said it would take time for people to re-adjust their
routes, that the economy was still down in the area. Also,
most of the PATH commuters had worked in the World Trade
Center towers. "There is 10 million square feet of office
space not there," Mr. Coleman said.
"It seems like it's pretty heavily loaded," Mr. Coleman
said as he watched streams of passengers moving through the
station just before 7 a.m.. The trains of eight cars, which
can carry up to 1,000 people, were pulling in to the
station every five minutes.
Mr. Coleman said the Port Authority would have a full
account late on Monday of the number of passengers who rode
on the first day.
" Many of the commuters who went through the station today
said they had been in the city on the day of the attacks.
"Time has passed quickly," said Gary Johnson, 43, a
financial services businessman, after he left the train. A
commuter from Colts Neck, N.J., Mr. Johnson said he used
the PATH daily before the attacks.
"I came through twice that day, once at 6 and then I went
uptown for a meeting at 7:45," he said. "I am glad they
have been able to rebuild."
Kathleen Quigley's eyes filled with tears as she recalled
how she had arrived by train the morning of the attacks
about a half hour before they happened. She said she was
later evacuated from her building near the Trade Center.
"Everything is almost the way it used to be," she said,
looking around the station. "But it's not. There is a
sacredness to it. There is still something."
Downtown businesses saw the reopening as a hopeful sign.
Greenwich Jewelers on Trinity Street handed out flyers that
read "Welcome Back PATH Train Commuters" and offered a free
Across the street from the station, a long line of people
waited patiently for free coffee, doughnuts and muffins
handed out by the Millenium Hilton Hotel's Church & Dey
restaurant to mark the opening of the station. "Welcome
Back PATH" a large banner read. PATH refers to the Port
Authority Trans-Hudson commuter rail system.
There are still signs that the events of Sept. 11 are
fresh. At the nearby post office at Church Street, a
dust-covered plastic wreath adorns the door, in remembrance
of the 11 members of the postal police who helped evacuate
the building after the attacks.
The temporary terminal was designed by Robert I. Davidson,
chief architect of the Port Authority, as a stark display
of gray steel columns and concrete floors. Blue Signs
reading "World Trade Center" are attached to the columns.
The station crosses the trade center site in four levels,
from the train platforms about 70 feet below the sidewalk
to the winged entrance canopy on Church Street. The Port
Authority of New York and New Jersey, which built the
terminal, has a preliminary design by the architect
Santiago Calatrava for the permanent PATH station.
Parts of the burned structure that formed the parking
garage are visible from the turnstiles. The floor, doors
and signs linking the PATH station to the E subway train
are left over from the original World Trade centre
Just after 9 on the morning of Sept. 11, a PATH train
pulled into the World Trade Center, rescued the last people
on the platform, and left the station. It was the last
train to do so before the south tower collapsed.
Patricia Reilly rode into New York today on the PATH train
wearing a yellow ribbon in memory of her sister, Lorraine,
who was in the south tower when it was hit by the second
"I never got my sister's remains back at all," said Ms.
Reilly, who is with the Coalition of 9/11 Families, which
wants the station to be called World Trade Center Memorial
Station. "I feel she's somewhere around here," she said,
standing in the terminal. "This is where the largest
concentration of remains was found."
Before the attacks, the World Trade Center Station was the
busiest in the PATH train system, and it was one of the
main access links to downtown Manhattan and to Wall Street,
the economic and financial nerve center of the city.
About 210,000 passengers a day were riding the PATH at the
time of the attacks, and those displaced from the Trade
Center station either found alternate ways to work, or
squeezed into the remaining stations.
Extra trains were added at midtown stations to try to ease
overcrowding. Extra buses and ferries addressed some of the
commuting needs to the downtown area, but overall their
capacity was viewed as insufficient.
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