Date: May 12, 2003
Press Release Number: 63-2003
A bit of luck coupled with workmanlike perseverance started PATH conductor Denis Cronin’s career 40 years ago this month.
As Mr. Cronin – a Jersey City native who now lives in Cranford, N.J. – nears his 40th anniversary as a PATH conductor tomorrow, May 13, he still fondly recalls the twist of fate that began his nearly four decade run transporting thousands of daily commuters.
Back in 1963, Mr. Cronin lost his job as a shipping and receiving clerk in Jersey City and was out looking for work. On a whim, he filled out an application for a PATH conductor’s position. At the time, the Port Authority had just taken control of the system from the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad and planned to hire 14 new conductors. When Mr. Cronin filled out the application, the agency had already made all its hires. When the Port Authority later discovered that four of those hires were under age 21 – a requirement for working on the railroad – Mr. Cronin was hired and asked to report for two weeks of training. He plans to retire at the end of this month.
\"God has a plan for all of us and that’s just the way it fell,\" said the 62-year-old conductor, who also lived in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., for many years.
Mr. Cronin’s career found him working the midnight tour for more than 30 years, providing a calming, informative voice for thousands of PATH riders.
Mr. Cronin recalls an incident during his early years on the railroad when he found a woman’s purse on a train and gave it to a dispatcher who returned the wallet to its owner. He later found that the wallet contained $6.20, which was the only money the woman had until her next payday.
PATH Director/General Manager Michael P. DePallo said, \"Denis is a real professional and is truly a valued employee. He consistently has a smile on his face, treats his passengers with respect, and is always available to work extra shifts when needed. He has been a real asset to our system, and he will be missed when he begins his retirement.\"
During his 40 years, Mr. Cronin said he has seen PATH transformed by the Port Authority from a system that operated with older equipment, and antiquated stations and signal systems, to a safe, reliable mode of transportation.
\"If it wasn’t for the Port Authority, I don’t know if any other agency could have done what they did,\" Mr. Cronin said.
Mr. Cronin said he’s been able to successfully balance his work career and his home life thanks to the support of his wife of nearly 40 years, Mary Jane, and his three sons, John, Paul and Denis.
While he has enjoyed his career on the railroad, Mr. Cronin said it’s time to call it quits. He’ll make his last run on May 31, but in the process will lose a bet he made with a co-worker.
Mr. Cronin and his colleague, Richie Vacante, who were both hired at the same time back in 1963, bet each other over who would be the last man still working from that training class. On June 1, Mr. Vacante will be the last man standing.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates some of the busiest and most important transportation links in the region. They include John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia and Teterboro airports; the George Washington Bridge; the Lincoln and Holland tunnels; the three bridges between Staten Island and New Jersey; the PATH rapid-transit system; the Downtown Manhattan Heliport; Port Newark; the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal; the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island; the Brooklyn Piers/Red Hook Container Terminal; and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan. The agency also owns the 16-acre World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan. The Port Authority is financially self-supporting and receives no tax revenue from either state.