Amtrak workers could go on strike as early as January 30th. As with all strikes, there’s a much broader impact than you first think.
An Amtrak strike has affect on virtually all rail related travel. What most people don’t realize is Amtrak controls the signals coming in and out of Penn Station. This means all the rail switches are under their control.
Because of that, LIRR and NJ Transit trains cannot come in or out of Penn Station without them. Even though multiple train companies use the rails, it is Amtrak doing the switch work. If and when the Amtrak workers go out, Penn Station will grind to a stop. It translates into the displacement of 85,000 LIRR riders and about 70,000 NJ Transit riders.
NJ Transit riders will be able to get close to the city, but not all the way in. They would be able to ride as far as Hoboken, and then they would have to get off. From there, they would need to take the PATH or Ferry.
LIRR riders would have to get off at Jamaica Station in Brooklyn. From there, the only option would be to take the subway the rest of the way into Manhattan.
If the strike happens, there will be an enormous amount of volume on the PATH and subway. Perhaps more than they are able to handle. There would also be an insane amount of street traffic.
People would likely start to drive into the city. If the option is drive to a PATH station or parking lot near a subway stop, people will probably just say “screw it” and drive all the way in.
Folks that choose not to drive are going to get crammed into PATH and Subway trains like they’ve never seen before.
January 30th happens to be a Wednesday. I’d imagine that is a fairly slow day for incoming or outgoing tourist travel. However, Thursday and Friday are going to get crazy. People coming into the city for the weekend that had planned to take Amtrak will start to flood in using alternative methods. Yikes.