Leave No Station Unphotographed: The Blog of SubwayNut.com

 

NJT to Linden then Metropark, Amtrak to a Free Stopover at Newark Airport (Upload) to Fully Photograph the AirTrain Monorail!

Today I took a little adventure to finally photograph the Newark Airport Monorail fully, because of a free connection I discovered in Amtrak’s reservation system. Tomorrow I’m taking the Maple Leaf to the Adirondack to the ferry to Burlington to visit some friends who are renting a house near St. Albans (don’t worry I’m taking the Vermonter back to add that trackage to my resume). I was playing around with Amtrak’s reservation system and discovered I could add an Amtrak adventure from as far south as at least Philly basically free of charge with the same $63.00 fare before discounts to my ticket tomorrow on the Adirondack to Port Kent (for the ferry across to Burlington). I have to say basically free because I had to sacrifice the 15% I Love NY discount for my standard 10% NARP discount (ended up being about $4 more) but that seemed like a perfectly decent price to pay for the day I had today and the 200 extra AGR points it earned me in quest for Select+ Status.

It began on the A train to West 4th Street around 9:40am as I thought I had plenty of time. I first ran an errand in the Village before I tapped my SmartLink card (still paying just $1.30 because I bought ten rides before the last fare hike and somehow have two left) into the 9th Street Station at 10:40. From there the Journal Square train came and whisked me out to the terminus just before 11:00am. Plenty of time I thought to get to Newark-Penn Station for a 11:25 train. The next train to Newark finally pulled into Journal Square at 12:10 and I got to Newark-Penn Station at 11:27, 2 minutes after the train I had wanted left. I made the most of my layover in Newark-Penn Station, getting some more photos and realizing that I am ready to really write about the station for its page. I decided to still do the stopover in Linden, thinking 20 minutes in Metropark would be enough time at the modern station. The 11:57 train comes in right on time. There is a wheelchair boarding my car and I notice an Amtrak employee putting the bridge plate up. The conductors are their usual quick selves and collect my ticket before we’ve passed the Path yard. We get the announcement for the Airport and pull in at 12:01 as a northbound Keystone passes. This train bypasses North Elizabeth, we stop at Elizabeth and I am stepping off in Linden, the only stop I’m missing on this portion of the NEC and a stopover that would only cost 25 cents more in the inconsistency of New Jersey Transit Fares.

I had a good half-hour in Linden which was just enough time for a full photo essay of the stations depot set back at an odd angle on the New York-bound side of the impressive six tracks with their side platforms.
The next NEC train left at 12:43, the conductor much to my surprise just punched my ticket and used it as a seat check. The consist was the same, a mish-mash of Single Level Comets in push mode. I got to Metropark at 12:52, and took a few photos as I fuond the underpass (decorated in LED lights) to the New York-bound platform. I realized that I’ll have to come back at some point nervous about missing my Amtrak train

It was a good thing I made a point of not straying too far. My Amtrak train, Northeast Regional #174 came in early at 1:06pm. We did sit and wait until 1:09 as I notice a smoker running off for a quick cigarette. I grab an aisle seat for the short ten minute, 100 AGR point ride. The conductor came through and scanned by iPhone while collecting all seat checks, not even looking at his phone and saying ‘Next Stop’ for my 10 minute destination. The passengers going to Boston have to now be scanned again after leaving New York by the new crew since all seat checks are gone. As we approach the airport it is announced “We need travel documents for monorail access”. There other people getting off with tons of luggage. Since this train is on time I have nearly 3 hours. I take a few photos of the platform area and head upstairs to the overpass and flash my iPhone to the Port Authority Red Coat Agent who is manning the turnstiles letting us through with her employee ID card that scans like a QuikCard. I notice she is highlighting EWR on the eTicket computer print out of the man ahead of me. I have a friendly moment as she looks over my iPhone confirming she does se the destination as Airport. I notice the fare gates can also accept contact less debit cards for those who need to just pay the AirTrain fee and nothing else.

I go and get on AirTrain Newark, the abysmally slow monorail. Some other passengers board my little compartment (the front one). They have gotten off Amtrak and are just renting a car. I take it all the way to Station P1, the other end of the line where I leave the station and notice there not too many cars parked with a few weeds even growing through the pavement. The Monorail goes over the Parking Spot’s lot (a private company) near the Train Station which was quite crowded. I guess price is the reason $12.95 versus $24 a day. The Airport does runs a shuttle parking lot for $18.

I end up having an excellent time visiting all 3 of the airport terminals plus the 4 Parking Stations. I even discover there is a well marked footpath to walk between them offering neat views of Airtrain from the edges of the upper level departures roadway of the terminals. All are identically designed with A and B opening in 1973 and C fully opening in 1988. The one thing Airtrain Newark has up against AirTrain JFK is the terminals were designed with a monorail in mind and the system, which didn’t open until Spring 1996, runs around the roofs of the terminals meaning all stations dump you right next to the middle security check point. It is a slow system, particularly waiting for the huge switches that are required to rotate since it is a monorail. It was also plagued by problems after it opened with the original contractor going bankrupt. I end up realizing that I’ll need to visit P4 again as I only had time to snap a few photos before I finally returned to the train station at 3:50pm. I stop at a QuikTrak Machine to pick up an update itinerary of the last 3 legs of my trip. The iPhone app has another glitch, you can only view the first two legs of a Multi-City trip so I’ll have to show a print-out at Penn Station tomorrow if I board the Maple Leaf (I’m doing the Schenectady layover) at a gate agent. A different agent lets me in: “Track 1 Sir”, he is actually sitting in the little booth in the middle of the two banks of fare gates (the design used by so many other rail systems) and I’m happy my train from EWR is on top of my new itinerary print out. I go down to Track 1 and have an excellent 15 minute photo stop waiting for my train has the platform gets really empty since not one but two inbound NJT trains arrive before mine. There is surprisingly just one Amtrak train bypassing the station on the two middle tracks as I wait getting photos of AirTrain entering and leaving its station as well.

Northeast Regional Train 186 arrives right on time at 4:04 as I get on and sit down, the seat checks are gone, I’ll probably have to make sure I find the conductor to scan my ticket. For once I want it scanned since if it isn’t I’ll have to call and get my reservation re started by being a no-show for a segment. The conductor does see me board and walks up (from his perch is the last car) to find me. I appear to be the only one getting on at the airport since this train terminates in New York since New Jersey Transit is much more frequent and cheeper.
At 4:20 we go through Secaucus and I arrive into Penn Station 4 minutes early at 4:26, happy with my little pre-adventure finally having photographed AirTrain Newark for the website.