U.S. News

New York transit disruption puts brakes on Wall Street workers

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street workers who make fortunes with quick deals and fearless trades faced a threat to their fast-paced work style on Wednesday that could not be negotiated: the New York area public transit system.

FILE POTO: A New Jersey Transit train is pictured at Pennsylvania Station as it shows some damage after being involved in an incident in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., March 24, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

Two days after a New Jersey Transit train derailed during rush hour at New York’s Penn Station, bankers, traders and other finance workers reported absent colleagues and crippling travel times as employees who commute into the city were forced to work from home or find expensive alternative routes.

Some could work remotely, but others, including those who make their money on the floor of Manhattan’s frenetic stocks and commodities exchanges, had to get to work some way, somehow.

“You adjust to the market; the market doesn’t adjust to you,” said Cuttone & Co Senior Vice President Keith Bliss, who works from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

The New Jersey resident said traders would find alternative routes, even if they add hours to their commute, to make it in time for the 9:30 a.m. opening bell.

But empty desks abounded elsewhere.

“It’s pretty easy to see who actually lives in Manhattan now,” said a major financial service company’s vice president who did not want to be quoted by name.

The derailment affected commuters from New Jersey most severely, but residents of Long Island and other surrounding towns and cities also felt the pain.

The Long Island Rail Road was running with delays on Wednesday, while NJ Transit was operating a holiday schedule through Thursday night on two of its lines into Penn Station, which 600,000 commuter rail and Amtrak passengers use daily.

“Customers are advised to build in additional travel time as delays and overcrowding conditions are anticipated,” NJ Transit said in a statement.

Amtrak was also operating on a modified schedule through Thursday.

“It is absolutely outrageous,” said Ritholtz Wealth Management Chief Executive Officer Josh Brown, who had to drive to work in Manhattan from his Long Island home.

On top of the $300 or so he pays for a monthly railroad pass, Brown had to dole out hefty parking fees.

But some saw hope in the latest headache. Bliss said financiers would benefit from the infrastructure spending that is so clearly needed.

“There’s opportunity,” he said, ” ... and I’m sure I’m not the only Wall Street banker-trader that’s thinking that way.”

Additional reporting by David Randall and Lawrence Delevingne in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis