Penn Station moves a half a million passengers a day, twice as many as the world’s busiest airport (Atlanta). It is the single most important transportation resource in the nation and nobody knows it. And nobody realizes why having just two tunnels under the Hudson River is a real problem. Can you imagine the George Washington Bridge with just one lane in each direction? Looking at this issue from an operator’s perspective, the congestion now experienced during rush hours will only get worse as the economy grows. If the Access to the Region’s Core project was too much at $13+ billion, why then is Amtrak working on a $14.7 billion solution? NJ Transit and the LIRR make up 95% of the ridership and have a lot to say about the future design. We need to take a holistic look at operations at Penn Station and by doing so will discover that we can build just one additional track (not two like ARC or Gateway) and still be able to double rush hour capacity.
Hurricane Sandy reminded many people what it is like not to have direct access by rail into NYC. Montclair, Maplewood and Morristown all realize how beneficial the Kearny Connection has become to their communities and the value of their homes. This new blog seeks to define the operations of Penn Station and suggest more pragmatic way of using the existing station and tunnels that yields a less costly 3rd track option to add capacity and flexibility to the station.
The crux of the argument is that the position of the LIRR West Side Yard gives us a unique opportunity to construct a 3rd tube, and avoid constructing a 4th. This can only happen if we rework LIRR and NJ Transit service to operate over each other’s territory which would give added benefits to riders such as – access for NJ Transit riders to JFK, Yankee Stadium, Citi Field and the US Open, and Newark Liberty, Met Life Stadium and the Prudential Center from the LIRR and Metro North. If trains can operate between France and Germany, surely we can figure out how to better integrate NJ Transit and LIRR service.
Bob Previdi writes at Penn Station Blog