Letter: Penn Station Upgrades Don’t Protect LIRR Commuters

There is nothing to celebrate concerning opening of the new $600 million 7th Avenue 32nd Street Penn Station Entrance. Just like previous investments including the $1.6 billion Moynihan Station, $300 million West End Concourse and $600 million 7th Avenue  33rd Street Entrance and enlarged Main Concourse total $3.1 billion, they do nothing to eliminate periodic cancellation and consolidation of LIRR, NJ Transit and Amtrak trains utilizing either the East River or Hudson River Tunnels due to signal, power, broken rails or other malfunctions.

These investments provide no improvement for reliability of service or additional platform and track capacity.  Periodic overcrowding at the platform levels will continue  This results in overcrowded trains with insufficient seating capacity.  Some riders end up standing in the vestibules and aisles. The mad rush to board late arriving trains for the trip home will continue.

Amtrak initiation of East River Tunnel rehabilitation starting in 2024 will result in one of four tunnels being removed from service 24/7. If a train stalls in one of the three remaining tunnels, thousands of commuters will be late.   To preserve existing service, some LIRR rush hour trains will be canceled or combined. Until this work is over by the promised 2027 date, it is impossible to guarantee safe and reliable on time service with a full schedule of trains, including a seat, to and from Penn Station for LIRR commuters.

Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously served as a former Director for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office of Operations and Program Management.

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