This train— the 5:25pm train— is the last train that goes into New York until rush hour is over. The next New-Providence-to-New-York train is 8:45pm.
I’m sure this has messed up the schedules for some rail passengers (what if you have a red-eye flight, and you need to get to Newark or LaGuardia or JFK airports?), but the Gladstone branch isn’t particularly well-traveled. NJ Transit has to do what makes the most financial sense.
Plus, since most of the Gladstone branch only has one track, if they ran lots of trains going INTO New York during rush hour, the trains coming OUT of New York would have to be less frequent, which would annoy a lot more people.
Speaking of annoying people— they updated the train schedules in November, and my 7:09 morning train was changed to 7:12. Great, says I, I have an extra three minutes to get ready in the morning! Unfortunately, they have completely ignored this schedule update, and the train continues to show up at 7:09, which has led to a few frantic runs to catch my train. Seriously, NJ Transit, if you’re going to make these sorts of changes, PLEASE FOLLOW THEM.