Service on several of the New York area's vital rail lines was restored in time for Monday's commutes, a day after a derailment and a crash threatened to wreak havoc at the beginning of the work week.
Still, the nation's largest commuter railroad said that commuters should expect significant schedule changes the next few days during work to repair a track that apparently caused an empty Amtrak train to derail late Sunday.
Meanwhile, authorities investigated the cause of Sunday's commuter train crash in New Jersey while police said it appeared that mechanical failure was to blame. More than 30 people were injured in the crash, none seriously.
Most area transit agencies honored one another's tickets Monday, and additional buses and ferries were added to relieve some of the burden.
"I probably got here 16 minutes later than I expected to," said Nick Guldi, arriving in the morning at Penn Station in Manhattan from Bellmore, on Long Island. "That means I won't be able to walk to work. I'll have to take the subway."
Any problem along the New York-area rail network has the potential to disrupt trains that shepherd hundreds of thousands of people daily to and from the city and connect them to the subway or other regional rail systems, often through Penn Station, the nation's busiest train depot.
On the east side of Manhattan, under the East River separating it from Long Island, the Amtrak train that derailed because of track damage caused minor commuting headaches on the extensive Long Island Rail Road.
The LIRR operated reduced afternoon rush hour service on Monday and warned of schedule changes through Wednesday while track work proceeded. Amtrak hopes to complete all repairs by Thursday, spokesman Cliff Cole said.
On the other side of Manhattan and the Hudson River, in suburban Hoboken, N.J., the PATH commuter train — short for Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corp. — that crashed around 8:30 Sunday morning left 34 people with mostly minor injuries and shut down the tracks for hours.
Crews worked through the night to repair damage, and three tracks were back in service by Monday morning.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board examined the crashed train Monday, talked to the driver, and reviewed maintenance and employee records, according to agency spokesman Terry Williams. The NTSB will release a preliminary report within about 10 days, he said.
Officials said the train's motorman would be tested for drugs and alcohol, standard policy in such crashes. They said there was no evidence to suggest that the motorman was impaired.
Douglas Bowden, a director of the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers, an advocacy group, said his commute Monday morning was "better than most days."
Advanced security mechanisms installed in recent years mean it's more likely the incident was caused by computer malfunction or human error than creaky equipment, he said.
"It's not an aging infrastructure problem," Bowden said. "If anything, it's new infrastructure not working properly."
The PATH system is the main transit link between Manhattan and neighboring New Jersey urban communities and suburban commuter railroads. It handles nearly 250,000 passenger trips each weekday, fewer on weekends.