The “Summer of Help”

By Joe Iorio and Ashley Germinario, Media Relations Staff

Throughout PATH’s successful cross-honoring operation during the so-called “summer of hell,” more than 100 “ambassadors” sporting bright-yellow vests have played an essential role in keeping passengers moving.

These ambassadors are Port Authority employees and interns volunteering their time and energy to provide information and assist with passenger flow at Hoboken, 33rd Street and World Trade Center stations, where tens of thousands of additional NJ Transit customers are cross-honored each day during Amtrak’s infrastructure renewal project at New York Penn Station.

Since July 10, ambassadors have helped ease commuter uncertainties and aided PATH in handling an average weekday increase of more than 22,000 NJT riders a day. Whether explaining directions, answering questions or just offering a warm smile and a wave to brighten the day of customers, Port Authority ambassadors share a common goal of helping their customers.

No matter their work location or department, whether a summer intern or 20-year veteran, PATH could not maintain high levels of safety and operational efficiency during the Amtrak Penn Station project without their assistance.

“Preparing and executing a strategy to meet the demands of this significant ridership increase is a true team effort,” said PATH General Manager/Director Mike Marino. “Our ambassadors have done a great job of helping facilitate a smoother commute for both our regular customers and our new customers from NJT Midtown Direct trains.”

Portfolio recently visited the front lines of the cross-honoring effort at Hoboken and 33rd Street, for a sense of who the ambassadors are and their perspectives on a summer of hell that, to date, has been less than hellish.

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 From left: PATH Passenger Information Agent Philip Silvestro, Intern Grace Ostolozaga, Station Supervisor Lorraine Orosz, Intern Elliot Sotnick and PATH Senior Planning Engineer Keniven Coughlin.

PATH Station Supervisor Lorraine Orosz. After six years with the Port Authority in four different positions, Lorraine said that she has found a home at PATH because of the unique work environment. No two days are ever the same, she says.

Orosz has spent every weekday morning rush hour since July 10 at Hoboken to help usher NJ Transit customers onto PATH trains bound for Manhattan. She is building personal relationships with many of the regular riders now relying on the PATH system to get them to work in the morning. She thinks people were pleasantly surprised with how well PATH accommodated the extra daily influx of NJT cross-honored passengers.

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Addison Lovell, Assistant PATH Station Supervisor. Lovell has worked for the Port Authority for more than 29 years, bringing a positive attitude to work with him every day. Managing the daily crowds at the 33rd Street station during the Penn Station project this summer has been a breeze because, he says, he enjoys “managing chaos.” Not that there’s been an abundance of chaos. Lovell explained the 33rd Street station has maintained a great atmosphere with no problems thus far.

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Keniven Coughlin, PATH Senior Planning Engineer. During a recent Hoboken shift, Coughlin said he believes that commuters have “completely adjusted” to their new work routes, and are becoming more friendly with the volunteers waving them through the turnstiles.

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Atul Ragoowansi, Port Authority Senior Program Manager. A 25-year Port Authority veteran, Ragoowansi spent a recent shift at the 33rd Street PATH station cross-honoring NJT customers. During a peak afternoon shift, he found the atmosphere was “pretty calm and things worked out pretty well.”

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Port Authority Intern Rahul Ochani. Ochani, a student at St. John’s University, has manned several shifts at 33rd Street. Being an ambassador, he said, gives him the opportunity to interact with customers, limit any confusion and answer any and all questions they have about their travels. He and his fellow volunteers have received frequent compliments from commuters on their hard work and efforts to keep things running smoothly.

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World Trade Center Construction Intern Elliot Sotnick (center). Sotnick is an engineering student at Cornell University who has worked a series of cross-honoring assignments at the Hoboken station. He was part of an ambassador team dispatched on the first shift of the first morning.

“Things have gone much better than my shift on the first day of service changes at Penn Station,” he said. “I thought I would see a lot more people angry with the process, but surprisingly, most people were calm and patient.”

PATH is still seeking additional volunteers for shifts at Hoboken, 33rd Street and World Trade Center stations. Port Authority employees interested in volunteering should contact their supervisor for more details.

 

 

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