The train from Penn Station is faster than a car in traffic, but most NYC subway lines don’t go directly there and you might have to take 2-3 different trains to get to Penn Station. This will take time.
Penn Station is a disorganized pit filled with thousands of people, and there are two ways to get to Newark airport by train, NJ Transit and Amtrak, and they are both priced extremely different (about $13 vs about $50) and take two different lengths of time to get to the airport station.
They don’t assign departure tracks until a train arrives in the station for the 5-10min wait before it departs. So you have throngs of hundreds of people standing around train monitors waiting to hear when a track is announced with less than 10 minutes to get to the track and on the train.
When a track is announced for a train, two hundred people will slam into the same stairwell to try and get to the track immediately.
The lines will be too long at the NJ Transit ticket vending machines to make the train. You won’t see any signs for tickets with humans at a booth selling them.
The MyTix phone app for NJ Transit tickets is one of the most poorly designed apps I’ve experienced in years. It took about 15 to 20 screens to sign up for an account, connect PayPal to buy tickets, search for a ticket and finally buy it. Also, you’re warned several times you can’t use the MyTix app on any other device you own.
NJ transit sells four different kinds of rail tickets and I’m supposed to know the difference between light rail and NJ rail tickets among the options.
There are two stations with the word Newark in them on your way to the airport. Lots of non-native speakers get off at the downtown Newark station instead of the Newark airport station.
NJ Transit trains don’t have any digital readouts or indicators of what the next stop is, or even maps inside the cars to tell you what stops are on your journey, just the scratchy voice announcements when you enter each station.
You pay for your ticket in the exit turnstiles in the station. The QR code you get on the phone app has a zoom function, but the QR code reader doesn’t scan it zoomed in, I had to unzoom it to get it to work.
There are no signs to explain how to pay for a ticket or leave a station, it was pretty much chaos after 50 people got off and wanted to go through a turnstile.
The Newark AirTrain to the terminal was down, but there was no signage, only a guy standing there saying you needed to take a bus downstairs.
A bus arrived every 10 minutes to take people to the terminal but there were no signs for where it would pick up or drop off so people randomly wandered around the station until one arrived, then they all clustered onto it.
The entrance to Terminal 3 at Newark International Airport has dozens of doors along its front, but they’re all locked and marked as EXIT ONLY. The single entrance in the center of the building has a massive slow revolving door that refuses to move when too many people get into it or get too close to the door.
There are dozens of signs for the TSA PreCheck security entrance, but none for the regular one, so the person posting up on the TSA line has to tell thousands of people each day they’re in the wrong line.