Jan
07

Capacity issues draw the short straw in Cuomo’s Empire Station Complex plan for Penn Station

By

Gov. Cuomo’s plans for Penn Station include shifting the main waiting room to the Farley Post Office Building.

Call it the return of Moynihan Station. Call it the Empire strikes back. Call it an ambitious plan to expand Penn Station (because of those “underwhelming dining options”). Call it misguided. Whatever you prefer, something seems to be coalescing around Midtown West’s train station, and it is all thanks to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desire to move us into and out of New York City.

In what I believe was the last day of Cuomo’s whirlwind State of the State preview tour that had him criss-crossing New York to announce various infrastructure upgrades, Cuomo announced two plans of dubious origin yesterday. The first is the bone he threw to upstate politicians who had asked for “parity” with regards to the MTA’s five-year capital plan. The state will, for some reason, spend $22 billion on upstate roads. It is ironically and appropriately called the PAVE NY plan, and it certainly isn’t parity. Considering the economic impact of such spending, the state would have to spend around $50-$60 billion on the MTA to create true parity. That was the appetizer though.

The governor returned to Manhattan early on Wednesday afternoon to announce an initiative that could usher in a completely overhauled Penn Station as early as 2019 — when Cuomo is still likely to be governor. The new plan looks suspiciously similar to the Moynihan Station proposal that’s been gestating for three decades, but it now bears the moniker of the Empire Station Complex, which is not, I’ve been told, Kylo Ren and Snoke’s plan for a replacement for the Starkiller Base. Rather, it is the start of Cuomo hopes is a $3 billion public-private partnership to usher in a “world-class transportation hub” for New York City. Considering our experiences with the other transportation hub at the World Trade Center site, you’ll have to excuse me if I don’t jump for joy.

In presenting this plan, Cuomo managed to praise Robert Moses for “designing for the future” in creating “much of the highway and parks system we still depend on.” You can spend 1000 words unpacking that statement and Cuomo’s intentions alone. Rather, though, let’s talk about what the Penn Station renovations do and what they do not do.

Demolishing the Theater at MSG would allow for a more passenger-friendly Penn Station experience.

First, they certainly look nice. By shifting the main terminal to the Farley Post Office building site, the plans create a European-style sunlight waiting room with higher ceilings and an overall better passenger experience (less the avenue block walk from the IRT trains) than one currently enjoys at Penn Station. It solves what Cuomo identified as a major problem with Penn Station. “Penn Station is un-New York: it is dark, it is constrained, it is ugly, it is dated architecture, it is a lost opportunity. Travelers are relegated to a bleak warren of corridors,” he said. “Frankly, it’s a miserable experience, to cut to the chase, and to really cut to the chase, it is a terrible introduction to New York.”

But to “fundamentally transform” Penn Station, Cuomo has seemingly forgotten the transit options. His plan:

Penn Station Redevelopment: The existing Penn Station facility, which lies beneath Madison Square Garden and between 7th and 8th Avenues, will be dramatically renovated. The project will widen existing corridors, reconfiguring ticketing and waiting areas, improve connectivity between the lower levels and street level, bring natural light into the facility, improve signage, simplify navigation and reduce congestion, and expand and upgrade the retail offerings and passenger amenities on all levels of the station. The new station will include Wi-Fi, modernized train information displays and streamlined ticketing.

Several design alternatives will be considered, including major exterior renovations involving 33rd street, 7th avenue, 8th avenue, and/or Madison Square Garden Theater…

Farley Post Office Redevelopment: As part of the Governor’s proposal, the Farley Post Office, which sits across 8th Avenue from Penn Station, will be redeveloped into a state-of-the-art train hall for Amtrak, the new train hall, with services for passengers of the Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit and the new Air Train to LaGuardia Airport. The train hall will be connected to Penn Station via an underground pedestrian concourse, and increase the station’s size by 50 percent. At 210,000 square feet, the train hall will be roughly equivalent in size to the main room at Grand Central Terminal. The new facility will offer more concourse and circulation space, include retail space and modern amenities such as Wi-Fi and digital ticketing, and feature 30 new escalators, elevators and stairs to speed passenger flow. The Governor’s proposal also calls for an iconic yet energy-efficient architectural design.

Cuomo presented the proposal with an aggressive timeline. He wants companies to bid on it within 90 days, and as I mentioned, he wants it built within three years. It’s clear this is something he wants to see through as governor. In fact, as The Times reports today, a behind-the-scenes agreement among New York State, Related and Vornado nearly came to fruition last year, but the negotiations simply took too long. Cuomo is now opening up the process so that development companies can bid on parts — that is, only the 7th Ave./33rd St. half or only the Farley rebuild — or all of the renovations at once. Vornado and Related are expected to be involved in the bidding, and Extell and Brookfield will be as well.

Considering we all know that Penn Station is an ugly mess of a train station that doesn’t serve as a particularly alluring gateway to New York City, what, you may wonder, are the objections to this project? Simply put, it is another multi-billion-dollar expense that, by itself, doesn’t do anything to solve the region’s real problem of transit capacity. Amtrak’s CEO Joe Boardman stated that the Penn Station overhaul is “setting the stage for the future expansion of rail service and ridership that will be made possible by the Gateway Program,” but without a firm commitment to build the Gateway Tunnel, the Penn overhaul is nothing more than lipstick on a pig.

And so we arrive back at the problem that Cuomo’s plan is a lot of flash without much substance. Despite promises to build the tunnel in his presentation, we still don’t know what the future holds for Gateway, and nothing Cuomo has said over the past few days of infrastructure press conferences has changed that reality. Gateway exists as an idea with some momentum and vague commitments to reach a funding agreement. There are no dollars flowing, no timelines, no studies, no shovels. Much as the World Trade Center PATH Hub was a $4 billion expense to create a shopping mall, so too might the $3 billion plan to overhaul Penn Station. And the sad part is that for those $7 billion in building expenses, we could have had a new trans-Hudson tunnel sooner rather than later.

Of course, if Gateway materializes, the Penn Station overhaul will be a welcome element of a revitalized midtown transit-scape, but we’re talking multi-billion-dollar, decade-long if’s. Cuomo won’t be in office to cut that ribbon, and supporting a project he won’t be around to see through will take leadership he hasn’t shown yet.



Categories : Moynihan Station

154 Responses to “Capacity issues draw the short straw in Cuomo’s Empire Station Complex plan for Penn Station”

  1. Jack says:

    Ben, I think you miss part of the point with these station complexes. Yes, the money involved is absurd, but part of the goal with transit is convincing those who do not currently ride the trains to do so. I know myself that the maze of Penn Station has served as a barrier to taking Amtrak to D.C. rather than driving. While the money would perhaps be better spent on a tunnel, the demand for a tunnel would only increase with an improved Penn Station. They are not mutually exclusive, and if this can really be done in three years, it will make the general populace look far more favorably upon transit projects.

    • Herb Lehman says:

      I agree. Penn Station is absolutely awful and definitely discourages people from using transit. While we all have great reason to pile on Cuomo re: transit issues, this is an initiative I actually kind of applaud. They can’t do anything to expand capacity with the current Penn Station the way it is. Never mind the fact that the station is an eyesore, there simply would be nowhere for the extra people waiting for/coming off the extra trains to go.

      I’d like to see a destination with some actual substance, though. Not the Fulton Transit Center, an multi-billion-dollar, empty shell of a building that’s essentially a gigantic advertisement for T-Mobile.

      • VLM says:

        We don’t have the rail capacity for more transit riders. Penn Station may be ugly, but it’s doing nothing to actively discourage people from using transit. What’s actively discouraging people from doing transit are constant problems with Amtrak’s Hudson River tunnels and a lack of capacity that constrains rail providers from offering more service. Ben’s point is well made and well taken (and it seems to me that he’s supporting a Penn Station overhaul in conjunction with capacity increases).

        • Eric F says:

          The tunnel issue makes weekend trips to/from NY undesirable because trips are bunched hourly, making for very long headways.

          The aesthetics of the station are probably less important, but I would just say that personally I would be disinclined to troop through Penn Station with young children. I wouldn’t have any similar concerns with Grand Central.

          • Bolwerk says:

            What difference is there at Penn? More homeless? The crowding seems similar, perhaps even worse at GCT because of tourists who don’t even care about trains.

            I like frequency as much as anyone, but hourly weekend commuter rail service doesn’t seem that unreasonable to me under the circumstances. Those trains are probably usually lucky to be at half-capacity as is. Get some kind of rapid transit-commuter rail hybrid system going in the ‘burbs and maybe more frequency could be justified.

            • Eric F says:

              Regarding Penn: yes, in part. The place is overrun with vagrants. It’s an unpleasant atmosphere. The crowding and cramped conditions also makes it difficult to get around with little kids.

              Your second questions is based on a misapprehension. Weekend trains are absolutely not uncrowded. They are often equally as crowded as rush hour trains, replete with people standing in the aisles. I have no doubt that the passenger loads do not justify weekday rush hour frequency, but there are very large numbers of people coming in, and I imagine those numbers would be higher if the trains ran more frequently and the end point station didn’t have the aesthetic of an early 20th century mental institution.

              • Bolwerk says:

                Totally agree weekend ridership is healthy. Maybe I’m relying overly on the outbound utilization (regular-ish Trenton-bound user myself), but my usual experience is not getting two seats to myself out of Penn during Saturday is virtually unheard of.

                If ever I see inbound crowding, it’s nearer to Manhattan anyway, hence the rapid transit-ifying comment.

                • Eric F says:

                  I have taken a few NEC’s in on weekend mornings and afternoons and back out at night, and saw very full trains. I also see quite a few NJ fans coming into NY en masse to attend baseball games at Yankee and Mets stadiums. Admittedly small sample size.

                  The LIRR greater frequencies on weekends (using their 4 east river tunnels) would likely cause those NJers to salivate.

                  • SEAN says:

                    I took the train in a few Saturdays ago & I was truly shocked on how crowded it was at 9:00. I’ve been on rush hour trains that weren’t as busy as this train was.

              • tacony says:

                GCT is closed every night at 2am as an easy excuse to kick out all the homeless and clean up the station. Penn Station isn’t so lucky, but on the other hand, Amtrak and LIRR riders are lucky enough to still have overnight trains, whereas Metro-North riders are stuck until the first train out in the morning– so pick your poison.

                The comparisons between the two stations get tired, but remember that GCT is now entirely controlled by one entity whereas Penn is the more complex assemblage of 3 which makes unified action more difficult. GCT has far more tracks and moves far less people.

                As a regular user of both stations, I don’t care about “destination dining” (I occasionally grab a slice and a beer from the cheap places along the LIRR corridor. GCT doesn’t have a quick, cheap comparable.) I don’t want a tourist attraction in Penn, I just don’t like the incredibly narrow stairways and the way the LIRR waiting area is so undersized and poorly designed. It’s not about aesthetics, it’s about allowing for appropriate pedestrian circulation.

      • Tim says:

        The need for imporoved passenger flow is important for the station, but they’re not addressing the real problem: Platform space.

        You can reduce the necessary circulation if you can guarantee which trains will be on which tracks more than 5 mins before departure, so that passengers can wait on the platform ahead of time, and not crowd around the clocks. That’s one of the bigger problems.

    • Bolwerk says:

      They are mutually exclusive in that the resources spent on this are theft of resources that could be used to build a tunnel. This is likely deliberate, of course.

      • webster says:

        …neither the city nor the state is paying for this; hence, the RFP for a private partner to fund the scheme in exchange for commercial rights.

        This isn’t money that would have gone to Gateway.

        If anything, the funding for Gateway needs to come from the TIF district in which Penn Station sits (i.e. Hudson Yards). The city will recover more than enough revenue from development in the district to recover the costs of the 7 extension.

        • Bolwerk says:

          If you have a public asset that valuable, you find a way to use the proceeds yourself. You don’t give the revenue stream away to your buddies in exchange for a showy mall. Fucking neoliberals. These people are the ones always sneering about how incompetent everyone else is, too, while they pillage the future.

          It really shouldn’t go to Gateway, but proceeds from profitable public transit infrastructure should go back into transit. Gateway is New Jersey’s problem, and NYS and NYC shouldn’t put a dime to it beyond smoothing the way legally.

          • Tim says:

            It’s a Federal issue for Amtrak, and their inability to sort it out is a problem. It should be roughly 60%Feds-25%NJ-10%NYS-5%NYC on the payment breakdown.

            And it should have been done long ago. NJ and the Feds should be the only ones on the hook for anything past the western tunnel portal.

            • Bolwerk says:

              Amtrak by itself doesn’t need more tunnels. They use about one track of capacity right now. More capacity is entirely for the benefit of New Jersey commuters.

              I’m fine with the Feds just paying for all of it and keeping the complications down, but I doubt Congress would agree. Letting the PA pay for some is generous enough, and there is no way or reason NYS or NYC should pay a cent.

              • mister says:

                Allowing more capacity into NYC makes NYC a more attractive place to locate a business. I agree that it is more an NJ problem than an NY one, but that doesn’t mean that NY doesn’t receive some benefit and shouldn’t contribute something.

                • Bolwerk says:

                  No. We get the same benefits if we don’t do anything, which makes doing something illogical for us. Eventually a future president or NJ governor will have to blink and find a way to finance it, with or without us.

                  The only logical circumstance I can see for NYS funding Gateway is if the long-desired cross-harbor freight tunnel is part of the package too.

                  • mister says:

                    But we don’t get the same benefits if we don’t do anything. If we consider that increasing cross-Hudson capacity means more people can enter NY to work everyday, this means that more businesses can locate in NY with the promise of tapping into NJ’s workforce. This is nowhere on the level of benefit that NJ will receive, but it’s still something.

                    I can’t imagine that anyone will link Cross-Harbor with Gateway. Cross Harbor is one of those projects destined to be eternally on the back burner.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      We get the cross-Hudson capacity if we do nothing. All we need to do is wait and let someone else do it. It has gotten impossible to ignore the crowding conditions of NJT, and that happened before Sandy did enough damage to necessitate long-term shutdowns of the tubes for repairs. It is already deemed critical, which is why New Jersey and the Feds are pressuring Cuomo to spend money.

                      I can’t imagine that anyone will link Cross-Harbor with Gateway. Cross Harbor is one of those projects destined to be eternally on the back burner.

                      Of course not. That’s a project that would actually be useful to NYC. The heuristic – Cuomo’s certainly, and apparently yours – is that NYC should contribute heavily for suburban infrastructure, but get nothing in return for its altruism.

                    • mister says:

                      No, if “we” do nothing, then we don’t get cross Hudson Capacity. Saying “we should wait for someone else to do it!” is all well and good, but when no one else does it (a la the ARC debacle), then we DON’T get the additional capacity benefit. That means all of us. Segregating the “we” into “we NYers” vs “them NJers” benefits no one.

                      The argument you’re making is that since NJ benefits more (exponentially so) than NY from this piece of infrastructure, NY should pay nothing. I disagree with that argument. However, nothing in my comments so far has suggested that NYC should contribute heavily for suburban infrastructure, without expecting to receive anything in return. There should be a contribution commensurate with the benefit that we would receive. The benefits of a new pair of tunnels under the Hudson are clear for both those who live west of the Hudson and east of it as well. Making it an “US vs Them” proposal doesn’t help the situation.

                    • adirondacker12800 says:

                      NY benefits greatly from commuters from out of state. They pay state and city income tax and use services someplace else. Last I heard, 5 billion dollars a year to the state.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      If it’s not built, life goes on for us. The big stakeholders are undeniably getting antsy about it, so I find it unlikely NYS sitting it out would do much more than delay construction for a little while. We have our own projects that are more important to us. Spending money to fix New Jersey’s ARC debacle would still be shooting ourselves in the foot, and the Feds can more than afford it without New Jersey’s help.

                      I’d seriously generally be fine with making contributions commensurate with how much we benefit, if the same principle were reciprocated when we benefit a lot and others benefit a little. But for some reason, that principle evaporates when NYC is the primary beneficiary.

                    • mister says:

                      If it’s not built, it could impact NYC residents by having a negative effect on intercity rail and reverse commuting.

                      For years, revenue generated in the city has been used elsewhere. It’s going to take a monumental shift to reverse that trend.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      Probably wouldn’t affect intercity rail at all, since Amtrak owns the tunnels and can prioritize itself.

                      I’d need to see some numbers before I’d be remotely swayed by an argument about reverse commuters. From what I can tell, about ~48k New Yorkers work in Bergen or Hudson counties, and get there by every mode: ferry, commuter rail, PATH, bus, car, bike. The number of people who come in through Penn Station alone to work in NYC is probably at least 50% higher. I’d be surprised if 15% of that reverse commuter population reverse actually commutes by NJT to Penn or Amtrak to Newark or Metro Park, but if it is that high that’s ~7200 people. Not very convincing, considering RBB reactivation would probably move at least twice that at a fraction of what NYC is being asked to bear for New Jersey.

                    • mister says:

                      Amtrak could prioritize itself. It also could demand that commuter railroads pay higher usage fees. But it won’t do either of these things, because in spite of some politicians’ calls to make Amtrak a profitable company, that is clearly not its role, at least not right now. Therefore, if we want to continue to expand intercity rail, we will probably need to go ahead and build another tunnel.

                      The 7 line extension was built under the premise that it would spur development, raise property values and pay for itself. We all know that MTR does this in Hong Kong in a much more direct way, but value capture is a real thing that most with a passing interest in the transit community have acknowledged. So the real question is, where does a cross-Hudson tunnel raise property values? Certainly in NJ, where more commuters will have access to jobs, more one-seat rides will be possible, and more homes will be built. But, it will also help to generate growth in Manhattan too. Why should NY not contribute to something that will drive up property values, and therefore revenue, within the state of NY? I’m not saying that NY should go in and match what NJ is paying dollar for dollar, but it does make sense for NY to pay something.

                      I was completely against NY building the 7-Secaucus extension because it didn’t make sense for NY to take the lead in funding and building a new transit project for NJ. But I do think that NY benefits from a new commuter tunnel to NJ, and should contribute to the process.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      I’m not against another tunnel at all. Actually, I’m all for another tunnel. I’m just not for NYS paying for another tunnel. We’d basically have no cross-Hudson crisis right now if Christie didn’t feel the need to poke NJ in the eye over ARC.

                      So let the Feds work it out with everyone else involved and keep us out of it. We already have what we need with regard to trans-Hudson transit. We don’t have SAS, Triborough RX, RBB, or any number of other proposals that help us far, far more.

                    • mister says:

                      Well, your point does get back to the crux of the matter: We’d be much better off if Christie has not killed ARC. That was a terrible move, and was clearly done to grab the PA’s cash for the insolvent TTF. I agree with you on this, and I thought it was insane that after Christie killed the tunnel, Bloomberg wanted to fix the problem for him. NJ’s disinterest in fixing its transportation issues in a sustainable way doesn’t mean that NY should swoop in and fix it for them. But if the project is getting off the ground, a modest contribution is not out of the question.

                      End of the day, I do agree that SAS, TRX, and even some other, less championed proposals are more important for NYC.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      Quid quo pro is OK by me, but again, it’s like asking NJ to concede to paying for some of the cross-harbor rail tunnel. NJ businesses and roads benefit a little, but the principle beneficiaries are NYC and NYS. For practical purposes, I think the PA’s contribution (whatever that is) could be regarded as including New York’s contribution, just as NJ’s half of the PA money going to CBT could be regarded as NJ’s contribution to that project.

                      It may be a moot debate. Cuomo seems willing to help his mafia paisano, the people of NYC and NYS be damned.

                    • Nathanael says:

                      The commuter railroads will be paying higher usage fees to Amtrak starting, if I remember correctly, next year.

                      Congress required Amtrak to start charging them on some sort of equitable basis. The result: No amount of accounting shenanigans can avoid raising the amount the commuter railroads pay. A lot.

    • tacony says:

      What on earth? If we were building a train station in Ohio, I’d agree with you. But the idea that there’s not enough “demand” for more capacity at Penn Station? That’s insane. The station is packed. Trains are full. We don’t need to worry about making things pretty to fill extra capacity. The capacity needs to be increased because there’s not enough space for the masses of people who already want to use it.

      The biggest flaw with this and the earlier Moynihan schemes is that it moves everything further west, when most everything in Manhattan is further east, including the subways. It’s another block of inconvenient walking. The big push to extend the station complex west is mostly backed by real estate interests who control all the land over there and want to see Hudson Yards become more valuable. These people surely have Cuomo’s ear, who doesn’t understand transit at all.

      • adirondacker12800 says:

        Moving it east isn’t an option.

        • tacony says:

          Yes, so at least keep it where it is. Open up more entrances, widen stairwells, maybe even fill in some of the tracks to widen the platforms and add more on the fringes. (Yes, that’d be difficult and disruptive, but it’s one of the biggest problems to solve.) Prioritize reopening the shuttered “Gimbles passageway” and arrange to have it brought into MTA control (if not ownership) so it can be put within subway fare control. Part of the reason it was closed in the first place was that it was always privately owned and nobody wanted to take responsibility for it.

          The element of the Cuomo plan that seems good is getting rid of the MSG “Theater.” Using that space primarily to expand the LIRR waiting area should be the priority as LIRR moves the most people in Penn and has the most cramped, dysfunctional space. NJTransit recently opened their new entrance on the SE side of the station, which is definitely a step in the right direction.

    • Boris says:

      It’s just as easy to convince those who don’t ride trains by providing them with a train that takes them to where they need to go, instead of Penn Station. Very few passengers exiting at Penn Station actually want to be there. Many are traveling to downtown Manhattan or the other four boroughs. Penn Station is crowded only because it is treated as a terminal.

      The way to provide real options, and convince more people to ride trains, is by building infrastructure to new destinations and modernizing operations (e.g. through-running). Focusing on Penn Station as a terminal is an extremely poor use of taxpayer dollars.

      • Eric says:

        Penn Station is immediately adjacent to 6 subway lines, and one avenue away from 8 more. And none of these lines are as uncomfortably crowded as the Lexington. There is no better place to start your trip to elsewhere in NYC.

        Plus, it’s surrounded by Midtown office towers. Not nearly as many as Grand Central is, but more than anywhere else in the metro area except the rest of Midtown and maybe Lower Manhattan.

  2. Gian says:

    As a regular user of the LIRR, I’m looking forward to a nicer Penn Station. However, by moving Amtrak to the Farley Post Office and keeping the LIRR and NJT where they are, they’re essentially separating the intercity area from the commuter area. This isn’t a bad thing, save for the stairs that Amtrak passengers will have to climb and the avenue block that they’ll have to walk to get to the West Side IRT, as a nicer station will definitely help draw more people to use Amtrak, but I’m afraid that the intercity area in the post office is going to be all nice, and the commuter area will only receive wider tunnels, brighter light bulbs, and a fresh coat of paint.

    Those improvements will go a long way, but ideally, they’d redo it completely, with a new concourse shared between the LIRR and NJT, using the additional space to make it more open and airy. However, the only way that’ll happen is if they move MSG, which, unless they use eminent domain, won’t happen until the 2020s at the earliest. As the political will for this will have probably died down by then, a major overhaul of the commuter areas of Penn Station is unlikely. Whatever work that does happen should be completed within a reasonable timeframe and budget. If other projects in New York City are any example, Cuomo’s aggressive timeline is just unrealistic.

    I can’t help but feel like all of this money would be better spent on the subway. With the amount of money they’re going to spend on the Empire Station Complex, they could do wonders for the subway, expanding it and improving service. What if there were similar calls for improving the customer experience at busy transfer stations like Atlantic Ave – Barclays Center, Times Square, and Union Square? I can’t help but feel like this is a bit of a misappropriation of resources. However, a more optimistic person might suggest that increased demand for rail service into NYC, as well as NYC residents demanding parity with the improvements to Penn that’ll mostly benefit people from out of town, may lead to more money being allocated for NYCT down the road.

    However, if it’s going to go to commuters and others from out of town, I definitely agree that this money would better be spent on improving capacity with more tracks both leading to the station and within the station, as well as on new Hudson River tunnels. Frankly, while I know that preparation work has to be completed on the other side of the Hudson, I don’t understand why the tunnels themselves can’t be completed sooner. Why can’t they do what the MTA did with the 63rd St Tunnel, i.e. just sink prefabricated parts of the tunnel into the river. Would that really be so hard?

    Like you said, if these improvements are carried out as planned, these improvements will be a nice frame for better train service. However, with the limited funding available, they need to prioritize utility over eye candy.

    • anon_coward says:

      i don’t use the LIRR that much anymore, but when i do i know the train times ahead of time and try not to get there more than 10 minutes prior to the train. most times i try to time it where i get to the station 5 minutes or less before my train leaves.

      don’t really care how Penn looks like as long as they add more exits to the platforms and more exits. there is always a line waiting for the escalator on 34th and 7th

    • Jon Y says:

      RE: moving MSG, you’d be surprised what could be accomplished by just removing the MSG theater. That takes up the bottom floors of the arena and would actually allow for natural light to enter Penn if designed properly. I agree, by moving Amtrak back-office space to Farley, we could create a single, uniform waiting room for all 3 services to share with access to all 11 platforms.

      • AlexB says:

        Jon Y – Yes!

        Move the theater and reorganize/renovate the station into a main train waiting/ticketing area for all services (NJT, LIRR, Amtrak) and separate dining areas. Create more entrances and exits from the platforms and to the street. Existing Penn could be so much nicer for $0.5-1.0 billion and they could put that extra $2 billion they saved into Gateway.

        • Eric F says:

          The public money mentioned as part of the $3 billion figure I think is in the neighborhood of 10% of the total.

          • SEAN says:

            MSG needs to be relocated – to where is another discussion for another post.

            On the Penn Station front, removing all the back end operations elsewhere would do wonders for not only passenger circulation, but it would improve the prospects for adding useful amenities from retail/ dining to technical upgrades. We know it can be done since it was done at Grand Central with amazing success.

  3. webster says:

    “…Much as the World Trade Center PATH Hub was a $4 billion expense to create a shopping mall, so too might the $3 billion plan to overhaul Penn Station. And the sad part is that for those $7 billion in building expenses, we could have had a new trans-Hudson tunnel sooner rather than later.”

    Here’s the thing though, we wouldn’t.

    I would buy this reasoning if the city and state were ponying up the cash, but the entire premise of this PPP (more private, than public tbh) is the expectation that developers will want to cash in on the commercial rights.

    There aren’t many commercial rights associated with a tunnel.

    I’m not disputing its necessity, but you always insist that the trade-off is equal, and the only reason the WTC Hub and the proposals for Penn are as they are is because no one else understands how they should be focusing on capacity.

    I would point out that having an asset that is revenue positive (if nothing short of revenue neutral) does a lot for future capacity increases – by allowing bonds to be issued against said asset, rather than against [tax] revenues from Amtrak, the city, or the State. As does clearing out space in the current facility for renovation and expansion (we don’t know when Gateway will happen, but it obviously will – and it happening later may have positive consequences; namely, if MSG moves, before-hand, we may avoid the dead-end, cavern).

    One can easily critique what has really been occurring in transportation planning in NYC: the emphasis on the revenue side of transit (e.g. commercial uses) rather than the actual service, which I think you’re getting at, but I simply don’t understand this “all or nothing” cabal in transit planning circles. I really don’t.

    The money being spent on this scheme is money being spent for the rent from commercial tenants. As such, it isn’t money any private developer would be interested in parting with for Gateway.

    The counter-argument, however, holds that future developers might, if it means more warm bodies to patron their commercial interests (the “success” with TIF in the Hudson Yards is but one example).

    For me, the true dilemma is just how “public” this PPP will be: will the city/State require developers to put some skin into Gateway. The city already has the mechanism to do this, as the Hudson Yards District currently includes Penn: revenue captured from development in the district should also be used for these improvements (something I feel is inevitably going to occur, and something you feel isn’t occurring quickly enough).

    On the latter point, we agree. This should already be happening and is a must. However, sometimes, the way you phrase the trade-offs really gets my goat, since you often draw false equivalencies.

    The real questions are why the city isn’t leveraging future revenue (which has been shown will be substantial) from Hudson Yards to pay for other infrastructure, beyond the 7 extension? Why shouldn’t (and how could) developers be additionally incentivized to place a stake in Gateway in exchange for commercial rights?

    ***Again, this doesn’t negate your argument, but it softens it, in my view, for the reasons I pointed out.

    • Eric says:

      This is crony capitalism at its worst. Spend $7 billion of taxpayer money to create profit for a handful of real estate developers.

      • mister says:

        I think the point of webster’s comment was that the $3 Billion being proposed for Penn will be mostly private money, not taxpayer money. The 4 Billion for the PATH Hub, while wasteful, came from PA money, no? If so, then it is also not ‘taxpayer’ money in the true sense of the word. Also, the PA will be earning profits from retail space they create there. So, not a total waste.

        • Maggie says:

          I can’t figure this out. How is there $3 billion in private financing today that wasn’t available six months ago?

          I’m extremely, extremely skeptical about Cuomo’s methods and objectives. And $22 billion for highways upstate is obscene.

          • AG says:

            Well to my knowledge – it was never said that the developer would get full control of the retail options.
            I do recall a developer touted a plan to make a land swap with BMCC – but they were denied. So it’s not true that private money wasn’t available.

            As to the $22 billion… Yeah it’s obscene – but you have to recall that Cuomo is still a liberal Democrat. He was losing the base by telling them fiscally responsible things. Now we see Hilary with her grandiose schemes to let everyone go to college for free if she becomes president – he has to “bone up”. Plus he has to “out liberalize” the mayor. So raises and raises for everyone. Of course it’s pathetic. Even the ultra liberal city council just sent a letter to the mayor on Dec. 31st that his hiring of thousands and thousands more city workers (that’s before he announced his intention of higher wages) was fiscally irresponsible. It doesn’t matter. This is the northeast – so they have to do ultra liberal things to win. Unless you are someone like Bloomberg who can finance his own campaign.
            The worst part is that $22 billion for roads etc. probably won’t stop one company from leaving – nor attract any others.

            • Bolwerk says:

              roffles at Cuomo ever saying anything fiscally responsible.

              Also, two years of de Blasio budgets have on average raised the budget at a lower rate than Mike Bloomberg from 2002-2013.* Compound rate of 5.18% from the last Bloomberg budget vs. 5.30%, and that’d be lower if not for de Blasio’s capitulations to Cuomo and the Council.

              Democrats blow (none of those people are liberals, except maybe Bloomberg and Cuomo in a strict academic sense), but the double standards people apply to them are absurd.

              * I couldn’t find anything earlier to see how Bloomberg initially increased it from 2001.

              • AG says:

                Yes – well everyone spends when times are good. Whether private homes or government. There is a difference in spending than their is in debt. For instance buying a Hummer and buying a minivan both are expenditures. For the vast majority of people – the minivan might make sense. For most people a Hummer did not (which is why it eventually folded). Just as debt for a home or a student loan is different than using a credit card to buy groceries AND a $3k flat screen television – which you can’t afford.
                Same for government. There is a difference with your interest expense rising because you issued bonds to pay for infrastructure projects versus your healthcare expenses exploded because you didn’t negotiate well enough with employees or healthcare providers. Right now this mayor has hired tens of thousands of municipal employees. Even the crazy city council says most are unnecessary. Maybe they realize how inefficient municipal employees on a whole are. That’s just one example.

                • Bolwerk says:

                  Hummers and minivans are both favored by extraordinarily inept drivers.

                  Is some RWA blog or tabloid slopebrow making a hullabaloo about seasonable employment shifts or something? That’s the only way I’m finding any government employment shifts approaching the tens of thousands, and it’s completely normal because of things like lifeguards and park seasonal works.

                  • Local government employment increased in NYC by 0.77% in 2014, beginning to end (“NYC Current Employment Statistics (CES) history” here)

                  July 2014 to July 2015, total government employment shifted by 3400 at all levels of government. NYC hiring “tens of thousands” of new employees ought to have produced a percentage increase for this number of at least 2%.

                • Bolwerk says:

                  There are two big hiring events I could find under Bill de Blasio, and at least one of them is well known to teh public. In 2014, BdB added about 1000 more miscellaneous city employees, which the NY Post described as a “spree.” Then there is the ~1300 cop hire, which is somehow not a spree, but rather de Blasio “[seeing] the light.”

                  • AG says:

                    Unless the CBC is lying… It’s grown by 17,000 during Deblasio’s time.

                    http://www.wsj.com/articles/ne.....1452133543

                    A downturn WILL come. Then what? The correction will be more painful.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      Without them lying, that is so vague it’s not even possible to respond to. Local government employment shifts monthly. CBC always seemed sloppy to me, truth be told. So is Empire Center. But I’ve never caught them deliberately lying.

                      If you want to know what will probably happen with the next downturn, perhaps the last downturn would be instructive.

                      % NYC Budget Increase/(decrease)
                      2007 from 2006: 8.93%
                      2008 from 2007: 4.94%
                      2009 from 2008: (2.91%)
                      2010 from 2009: 5.27%
                      (IIRC, fiscal year 2008 would be the one that catches the start of the Great Recession, and Fiscal Year 2009 would have started some seven months later.)

                • Bolwerk says:

                  Also, through good times and bad, Bloomberg increased city debt much more consistently than he increased the effective size of the budget. To keep things simple, debt in the Bloomberg era increased at a compound rate of 5.58%.

                  Bill de Blasio only increased it by 2.22% in his first year in office. That’s all here, going back to 2002. I assume 2015 will be out soon.

                  • AG says:

                    Again – there are different reasons for debt. Some good and some stupid. Go look at the reasons for the debt expansion.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      I know the reasons. I even linked to categories for you.

                      I don’t even see a meaningful discernible difference between where Bloomberg borrowed and where de Blasio borrowed. The categories are the same, and the changes between categories seem like statistical noise to me. The biggest discernible shift, and it’s scarcely a sea change, is de Blasio decreased the velocity of the increase to a lower rate than Bloomberg ever achieved.

            • Maggie says:

              I’d call Cuomo a legacy Democrat but hardly a liberal one. To me he’s practically a Republican. The old Rockefeller Republican model comes to mind.

              Off topic but on college debt… doesn’t Germany, of all the paragons of fiscal austerity, provide tuition-free university education to everyone?

              • AG says:

                No actually – he did some fiscally responsible things in his first term. That’s “Republican”???? Ummm ok. In any event – it’s plain to see that in his desire to be President he is throwing money around to appeal to the liberal wing of the Democrats. The same one’s who are supporting Hilary.

                As to Germany. There is basically very little comparison between this country and Germany. Except maybe that the majority of white Americans are descended from Germans (rather than British that most people think).For instance – in Germany you can go to medical school for free. Don’t expect to become a millionaire from being a doctor though like here. It’s a very different world. Not only does Germany get better results from healthcare – the cost of care is much less. Not too far off in comparing higher education. In this country hospitals and universities at the top out perform most places… However in the middle and lower ends we are well below.

              • Bolwerk says:

                Most wealthy countries do. Germany only started making it policy recently. I’m not even sure it’s national policy, or just German states (Lander) coalescing around a single policy. Contrary to popular belief, Germany and at least one other German-speaking country (Switzerland) are probably even less unitary than the USA.

                It’s actually Bernie Sanders who thinks everyone should go to school for free. Hillary thinks people should pay in proportion to their means, perhaps nothing if you’re “middle class” (pandering level: maximized). I would agree with Bernie, but the obscene overhead in American schools (even public ones) makes it a bit difficult to justify doing it in vacuum. German schools teach, and do some research. American schools pay salaries to employees, take tuition and public money, and do some teaching and research on the side. What Germany wants is an Anglo-Saxon model of research universities creating job centers. They might get it too, since Germans are better educated than much of the world and often enough speak English better than Americans or Brits.

                There is little austerity in Germany either. German austerity policies are austerity for thee, growth through public investment for me.* The difference between the conservative German government and the “conservative” UK government is that Germany will let Greeks starve to death in the name of fiscal prudence, while the UK will even let its own people die in the name of fiscal responsibility.

                To actually tie this into something on topic, German construction costs are even high. 😀 But much lower than New York’s! And to go off topic again, German healthcare is some of the most expensive in the world, though much less than American.

                * To be fair, they’ve found it keeps fascism down.

                • Maggie says:

                  I don’t have expertise or strong feelings about German universities. Or even Bernie Sanders’s policy ideas. Just making the point that (as I understand it) subsidizing higher ed – and the German vocational programs too? – is done by the proverbial thrifty Swabian housewife. Sending youth to college for free isn’t incompatible with fiscal obsession.

                  • Bolwerk says:

                    Bernie Sanders thinks, based on principle or ideological stance, that people shouldn’t have to pay for school.

                    Germany is probably more interested in attracting educated immigrants. I don’t think higher education attendance rates are as high there, so it’s unlikely to be as expensive in Germany anyway.

                • Nathanael says:

                  The US *used* to have essentially-free public colleges (if you could pass the admissions exams). It worked pretty well. I think Bernie Sanders is correct in saying that we could bring that back if we wanted to.

                  Of course, the thing which would save the second-most budget money would be single-payer health care, which Bernie supports.

                  The thing which would save the most money would be ending the trillions wasted on counterproductive military garbage. Hey, I’m probably more militarist than the next guy, but I’m really seriously against stupid wars, and I’m seriously against slush funds for Lockheed Martin, and that’s what our “military” funding most is.

  4. Robert LaMarca says:

    Robert Moses indeed. It is almost as if its designer intends to damage New York City.

    It is a raid on NYC’s prosperity to pander to political interests up north and who knows where else.

    Politically it is very clever. How do you message against it? It looks like they are being so generous! But…

    How on earth could someone contemplate spending so many billions on transit without any capacity improvements for the city? This is two phases of SAS plus maybe even a 10th avenue 7 train station.

    How could someone possibly come up with a LaGuardia train that would be slower for most of New York City’s 8 million people but perhaps faster for a few people in Long Island?

    The governor has an anti urban agenda much like Robert Moses. We should be very afraid.

    Can we recall this man?

    Many will say that ending stop and frisk will cause the city to relapse into the bad old days.

    But remember, the bad old days followed Robert Moses and the lost opportunities of his era.

  5. eo says:

    $22 Billion for upstate roads? That is a lot of dough. For that money they can probably build another highway between Albany and Buffalo. Not that there is need for one.

    As for Penn/Moynihan/Empire/Whatever Station and the other projects, the good news is that with the exception of the AirTran all projects are reincarnations of projects that have been simmering over many years or decades. Even if Cuomo succeeds to push only a couple of these projects to the point where their completion is guaranteed because they are too far along, he would have still made bigger contribution to transportation in the region than many others before him. As much as I agree that certain priorities of the Governor are misplaced, the reality is that getting any of them done is good for the region and the city (on average in a very diffuse sense). So, no I have no intention to argue against the Governor’s plans. They are not perfect, but are good enough, so that if he can pull them up then we all will benefit. I really dislike the all or nothing attitude that seems to be permeating transit advocates these days (and not only them unfortunately).

    • Eric F says:

      The Thruway should be at least 4×4 lanes until I-84 and then 3×3 to Albany. Ideally, they could put in separate lanes for trucks/buses and cars. Not that any such thing is even being proposed. I have been in traffic jams on summer weekends that extended from the Tap all the way up to Albany.

      • Larry Littlefield says:

        Or you could improve the rail system, which has had no investment for 100 years. Which would be more in keeping with what younger generations realize they can afford, given that Generation Greed has left them poorer.

        I don’t suppose the state income tax exemption for retired public employees, and other breaks for other seniors, will be gotten rid of to pay for this additional cost shifted to the future. Robbing the future is always the real goal in Albany, Washington, the corporate boardroom, etc.

        • Eric F says:

          People use the Thruway for camping and hiking trips upstate at dispersed end points. It’s not realistic to think those trips can be accomplished by rail. The Thruway is also used heavily by trucks as it’s a NAFTA highway into Quebec. Faster passenger rail does nothing to address that usage. Further, due to the topography, you can’t really have an east-west rail line up there. The rolling short mountains are what stopped any such rail corridor from being built even back when rail was the only game in town. I’m all in favor of better rail, but rail will always have small mode share up the Hudson Valley.

          • Bolwerk says:

            There are a lot of reasons why this doesn’t work in the USA, but in a sane regulatory regime, rail is a perfectly good rural mode. Tiny communities near rail stations can be flag stops. On a rail line between two heavily populated places, allowing some people to alight at lightly populated places is trivial. Lighter equipment can travel fairly quickly over steeper terrain and around curves, maybe even to the point of having an advantage over highways.

            • Eric says:

              Rail is a bad mode in rural areas because a good mode (roads) already exists. There is no need to duplicate lightly used infrastructure in lightly populated areas.

              • Bolwerk says:

                Rail passes through rural areas for industrial/freight and intercity passenger services. There is absolutely nothing wrong with passenger service on the same routes.

                It’s absolutely kind of silly to build rail just for the purpose of servicing rural areas with passenger service, but then it’s similarly silly to build roads for only that purpose. I doubt there is any part of the American infrastructure spectrum more wasteful and less self-supporting than rural roads, residential ones anyway.

                • adirondacker12800 says:

                  If we build a high speed system across the Midwest and Northeast that serves 90, 95 percent of the intercity traffic there isn’t enough traffic left to send conventional trains off into the places with 15,000 people. They would be better served by a bus that is scheduled a few times a day. It would be mostly empty most of the time.

                  • Bolwerk says:

                    Think you’re reading something into my comment that isn’t there. Long-distance rail lines by nature pass through settlements with people who can be passengers. It really doesn’t make any sense to divert a line to a small settlement (not just for the sake of a few dozen potential passengers, anyway) but it also doesn’t make sense to preclude service to small settlements.

                    Though 15,000 people is practically a small city, capable of generating more passengers than many NYC area commuter rail stations.

                • adirondacker12800 says:

                  Residential roads are supported by local property taxes. They wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for the county road, supported by local taxes, that gives them access to the state and federal highways but they are supported locally.

          • tacony says:

            The percentage of people using the Thruway who are on their way to a remote camping and hiking destination is probably 1% of the yearly total, and I’m being generous. That’s a lame excuse.

            It should be relatively easy to take transit to Upstate’s major city centers, but it is not. If you are traveling from Manhattan to Syracuse or Rochester, travel times are much, much better driving than they are taking rail. Even if you’re going to Albany, you have to find a way across the river from Rensselaer. Of course rail has a miniscule mode share! People aren’t going to waste their time. The idea that we shouldn’t invest in transit ’cause you can’t go fishing from the train is nuts.

            (And yes, of course there is outdoorsy stuff right near train stations Upstate already… the train to Montreal goes right up Lake Champlain and has little middle-of-nowhere stops where you could hop right off to a camping, hiking, or fishing site.)

            • Nathanael says:

              There’s a perfectly good $6 billion plan for higher speed rail all the way from Buffalo to Albany (and onward to NYC).

              I suggest that everyone write to the governor and ask him to redirect some of this “$22 billion for upstate roads” to something which will actually HELP the upstate economy, namely high speed rail.

      • adirondacker12800 says:

        It doesn’t make sense to build highway for a traffic jams that occurs a few days a year.

        • Eric F says:

          Thankfully, I don’t spend an enormous amount of time on the Thruway outside of summer weekends, but I see jams Friday, Saturday and Sunday, which by itself is 3/7 of the week, for the roughly 16 weeks a year constituting the summer season. Not sure how hellish it is at other times, but it seems justification enough for expansion to at least serve the tourist economy.

          • adirondacker12800 says:

            How much higher tolls are you willing to pay for that?

          • adirondacker12800 says:

            Leave earlier or later.

            • Eric F says:

              I’m ok paying higher tolls for an improved road. The NJTurnpike did a toll financed widening project, ok by me.

              “Leave earlier or later.”

              Sure, that’s what I do when possible. People are well aware of the worst times to travel but find themselves stuck in traffic anyway. Not sure why the hostility to people who just want to engage in commerce and recreation within NY. That strikes me as an odd target for hostility.

              That mentality works well for commuting as well. Leave home at 4 a.m., come home at 10 p.m., very few transit delays. Lousy way to live a life though.

              • adirondacker12800 says:

                No one is forcing you to go upstate in the rush. Why should everybody else pay higher tolls all year long for a few days of the year for a few people going on vacation?

    • Nathanael says:

      For about $6 billion we can build high speed rail all the way from Buffalo to Albany, and from there to NYC. We could gold-plate it for $22 bilion.

      This would be useful, unlike burying the money in the pockets of road contractors.

  6. Eric F says:

    If he could get this done in 3 years, they should name the place after him.

    Penn certainly needs new capacity, no doubt about that. But what he’s proposing does have a capacity expansion element. I assume many readers here have seen Penn station at rush hour. The place is well overcrowded and any delays force dangerous conditions. During periods of protracted delays, access to the station is constrained with police conducting crowd control on surrounding streets. Opening the physical space of the station is itself a capacity add.

    I’m not sure what value to put on transforming a grim, ugly, foreboding space to a welcoming one. $3 billion to transform it as such for eternity seems like it could be justified.

    One other point: Cuomo has committed to supporting Gateway, so I’m not sure I see the Penn improvement as being undertaken instead of expansion of the tunnels.

  7. Larry Littlefield says:

    Generation Greed: We deserve something better than something ugly. And we shouldn’t have to pay for things. We deserve creative solutions. We are entitled to what we want, now.

    Generations to Follow: Your creative solutions have consisted on selling off the future we will live in, and we will be far worse off our entire lives as a result. We’re being forced to lower our expectations, and can’t worry about ugly. Stop running up the damn bill and just die off already!

    • Nathanael says:

      Oh, what we’ll do is default on the bonds. It’s just paperwork.

      There’s something to be said for Margaret Thatcher’s system of “bankruptcy financing”, which was used to build the Channel Tunnel. Borrow lots of money to build something, default on the bonds, keep the infrastructure.

      • adirondacker12800 says:

        And the financial types get commission on the bonds, legal fees for the bankruptcy and another round of commission or legal fees or both for the refinancing. Win win win all around. Instead of 2 percent vigorish 5 or 6 or 7!

  8. LLQBTT says:

    Make 8th Ave an elevated roadway “through” what would then become a contiguous station at street level, and expose the walls on the next level so that the 8th Ave line can have a more open feel at Penn and perhaps have ramps and more direct station access, especially from the southbound side.

  9. g says:

    Questionable invocation of Robert Moses aside I looked through the Gov’s presentation section on Penn Station and I don’t entirely hate it. The devil will be in the details of what the passenger circulation looks like from platform to street level but there are significant components that could greatly improve the current situation. Closing 33rd St, opening the street to the concourse via sky lighting , and adding access is a nice touch IMO. Penn’s capacity limitation besides the lack of more Hudson tunnels is the extremely poor circulation and lack of space in the concourses and waiting areas above.

    I don’t see this as instead of the Gateway project with NJ/Feds but an enhancement on the NY end that might actually make the extra rail capacity that will result from it sort of usable. I’m kind of neutral on it until firm plans emerge.

  10. Rob says:

    another multi-billion-dollar expense that, by itself, doesn’t do anything to solve the region’s real problem of transit capacity — also sounds like another fulton transit hub

    • eo says:

      I have no idea what will end up being built, but it will not be another Fulton Transit Hub. If private interests are paying (as opposed to the Feds) it will be different. I am not sure if it will be better or worse, but the private interests will get more done for much less money and much faster. The unknown is whether they will spend much money on the transportation elements or just on the mall/revenue generating part — that is up to the pols to prevent.

      • Jeff says:

        Yeah, the devil’s in the details and until the proposals start coming in I don’t think people should rush judgement on this project just yet.

        All we know is this is NOT a WTC Hub or Fulton Hub because those were driven by the MTA/PA. This will be developer driven, and hopefully the costs will get mostly covered by the developer like those for LGA.

    • pete says:

      It is another Fulton Transit Hub. The staircases to the tracks and the platforms will still be original to 1910 after Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo Empire Station is built. Who the fuck cares about sunlight? The bums who sleep on the floor and shake a can of change all day? Does the 6 train have sky light windows at its Lex Ave Stations? Why should Penn have that? Getting in and out of train station with the least human traffic jams, and least amount of seconds is the most important thing. Penn is filled with slow escalators, and even slower regular stairs. GCT was built with ramps, Penn has no ramps except one in NJT Concourse. The plan does nothing to speed up getting to one of the subway lines from inside the train. Its another 1962 Penn Station teardown and replace with retail plan.

      Airports seem to have turned into overpriced malls over the last 40 years due to airlines delays and cancellations and many air travellers being stupid filthy rich. Why should Penn Station be an overpriced mall? Would anyone goto Penn Station just for shopping or dining without seeking transportation services*?

      One of my not very bright friends says “if it is a train station, its got rats, I will never buy any food from any restaurant in Penn Station”. Perhaps he is not crazy as every other food selling place with letter grade, has a Green B in the LIRR and Amtrak parts. How will Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo Empire Station change this perception?

      Exit Concourse is the only way to transfer between NJT and LIRR, and finding an Exit Concourse staircase on a NJT platform takes alot of thinking and going half way up the staircase then back down. Amtrak’s ridiculous airplane gate loading at Penn is another thing that needs to change. 1 escalator, 200 people. If I have a AMTK ticket, I just look at the screen, go down the staircase in the middle of amtrak concourse into exit concourse, and find the right track door and bypass the bread line upstairs.

      Honorable Cuomo Station just puts a floor with retail in the high ceiling Amtrak rotundum and builds a mall above West End Concourse, and the brand new expanded West End Concourse doesn’t even connect to NJT dead end tracks 1-4. Turf fights and fiefdoms AGAIN!

      In all the renderings, walking out onto the street is the emphasis of the renderings. Most commuters do not walk out on the street but into the subways. Penn Station isn’t a sky scraper district like the one that surrounds GCT. The only “no subway fare” destination near Penn Station will be Hudson Yards, and this proposal is basically the most luxurious grandiose staircase to the street for Hudson Yards office workers pork barrel dollars can buy.

      In the renderings it shows replacing the finishes of the 33rd street LIRR concourse/mall hall. What the hell is wrong with it other than it being Chic 1990s decor? Are 2000s era grey plastic panels http://www.sabmagazine.com/blo.....la04_0.jpg https://architectureandbranding.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/dsc00064-nissan-nissan-dealership-ca-qc-longueuil-rue-saint-charles-est.jpg any more memorable than 1990s sheet metal slats?

      The Beaux Arts marble tiles installed in the 1990s in LIRR will be ripped off and replaced with dark grey PLASTIC!!!!! http://atelierny.com/images/he.....-ed_1b.jpg https://thenypost.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/122215_tourneau_emk_013.jpg?quality=100&strip=all&w=835 Penn Station Teardown Number 2????

      MTA institutional flooring too https://www.flickr.com/photos/governorandrewcuomo/23849795369/in/album-72157662670053040/ http://secondavenuesagas.com/2.....e-way-out/ http://www.wnyc.org/story/second-avenue-subway/

      The project doesn’t fix the track access, platform, or circulation problems except for Hudson Yards residents and office workers (not really, since NJT tracks 1-4 are still unreachable). It just makes real estate developers rich, “managing” a new mall built with taxpayer $ and no mortgage. How is Fulton Transit Center’s rent money? ZERO right now.

      http://www.mta.info/press-rele.....ton-center

      As master lessee, Westfield will be responsible for subletting the commercial space in the facility and selling space on its extensive network of digital advertising displays. With limited exceptions, it will also be responsible, at its own cost and risk, for cleaning, operating and maintaining the entire leased premises and making required repairs throughout the lease term. The MTA will participate in the revenues Westfield generates at the facility, in amounts that will depend on Westfield’s operating results.

      *I went to Penn Station yesterday without seeking transport services. I went to the 24/7 Au Bon Pain in Penn since it was 2:30 AM and the nearest food place to PABT at 2:30 AM is McDs, and McDs anywhere is crap food.

    • pete says:

      It is another Fulton Transit Hub. The staircases to the tracks and the platforms will still be original to 1910 after Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo Empire Station is built. Who the fuck cares about sunlight? The bums who sleep on the floor and shake a can of change all day? Does the 6 train have sky light windows at its Lex Ave Stations? Why should Penn have that? Getting in and out of train station with the least human traffic jams, and least amount of seconds is the most important thing. Penn is filled with slow escalators, and even slower regular stairs. GCT was built with ramps, Penn has no ramps except one in NJT Concourse. The plan does nothing to speed up getting to one of the subway lines from inside the train. Its another 1962 Penn Station teardown and replace with retail plan.

      Airports seem to have turned into overpriced malls over the last 40 years due to airlines delays and cancellations and many air travellers being stupid filthy rich. Why should Penn Station be an overpriced mall? Would anyone goto Penn Station just for shopping or dining without seeking transportation services*?

      One of my not very bright friends says “if it is a train station, its got rats, I will never buy any food from any restaurant in Penn Station”. Perhaps he is not crazy as every other food selling place with letter grade, has a Green B in the LIRR and Amtrak parts. How will Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo Empire Station change this perception?

      Exit Concourse is the only way to transfer between NJT and LIRR, and finding an Exit Concourse staircase on a NJT platform takes alot of thinking and going half way up the staircase then back down. Amtrak’s ridiculous airplane gate loading at Penn is another thing that needs to change. 1 escalator, 200 people. If I have a AMTK ticket, I just look at the screen, go down the staircase in the middle of amtrak concourse into exit concourse, and find the right track door and bypass the bread line upstairs.

      Honorable Cuomo Station just puts a floor with retail in the high ceiling Amtrak rotundum and builds a mall above West End Concourse, and the brand new expanded West End Concourse doesn’t even connect to NJT dead end tracks 1-4. Turf fights and fiefdoms AGAIN!

      In all the renderings, walking out onto the street is the emphasis of the renderings. Most commuters do not walk out on the street but into the subways. Penn Station isn’t a sky scraper district like the one that surrounds GCT. The only “no subway fare” destination near Penn Station will be Hudson Yards, and this proposal is basically the most luxurious grandiose staircase to the street for Hudson Yards office workers pork barrel dollars can buy.

      In the renderings it shows replacing the finishes of the 33rd street LIRR concourse/mall hall. What the hell is wrong with it other than it being Chic 1990s decor? Are 2000s era grey plastic panels http://www.sabmagazine.com/blo.....la04_0.jpg https://architectureandbranding.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/dsc00064-nissan-nissan-dealership-ca-qc-longueuil-rue-saint-charles-est.jpg any more memorable than 1990s sheet metal slats?

      The Beaux Arts marble tiles installed in the 1990s in LIRR will be ripped off and replaced with dark grey PLASTIC!!!!! http://atelierny.com/images/he.....-ed_1b.jpg https://thenypost.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/122215_tourneau_emk_013.jpg?quality=100&strip=all&w=835 Penn Station Teardown Number 2????

      MTA institutional flooring too https://www.flickr.com/photos/governorandrewcuomo/23849795369/in/album-72157662670053040/ http://secondavenuesagas.com/2.....e-way-out/ http://www.wnyc.org/story/second-avenue-subway/

      The project doesn’t fix the track access, platform, or circulation problems except for Hudson Yards residents and office workers (not really, since NJT tracks 1-4 are still unreachable). It just makes real estate developers rich, “managing” a new mall built with taxpayer $ and no mortgage. How is Fulton Transit Center’s rent money? ZERO right now.

      http://www.mta.info/press-rele.....ton-center

      As master lessee, Westfield will be responsible for subletting the commercial space in the facility and selling space on its extensive network of digital advertising displays. With limited exceptions, it will also be responsible, at its own cost and risk, for cleaning, operating and maintaining the entire leased premises and making required repairs throughout the lease term. The MTA will participate in the revenues Westfield generates at the facility, in amounts that will depend on Westfield’s operating results.

      *I went to Penn Station yesterday without seeking transport services. I went to the 24/7 Au Bon Pain in Penn since it was 2:30 AM and the nearest food place to PABT at 2:30 AM is McDs, and McDs anywhere is crap food.

      • adirondacker12800 says:

        The only “no subway fare” destination near Penn Station will be Hudson Yards,

        All the people who work in the Empire State Building live in the Bronx? There’s lots of other office buildings around there. Some of them with access to the station.

      • mister says:

        Fulton Center is supposed to generate revenues to MTA up to $11 million annually. Yes, they aren’t getting this revenue right now, but they’re also not paying to operate the FC while it gears up to handle tenants.

        • Nathanael says:

          Fulton Center also replaced all of the staircases and elevators. Which was most of the work, actually.

          So, uh, I don’t get pete’s weird claim that the staircases will stay the same.

  11. David R Yale says:

    The plan also does nothing to address the outmoded, poorly designed interlocking that slows down incoming westbound and outgoing eastbound trains to a crawl, and stands in the way of the possibility for through running from Long Island to New Jersey.

    • Eric F says:

      I remember quite specifically that fixing that interlocking was part of the 2009 “stimulus” bill. What ever happened to that?

      The other NEC aspect of the bill, which involves upgrading the “racetrack” in NJ between New Brunswick and Trenton is proceeding glacially, but I never heard any follow up on the interlocking job by the tunnesl.

      • Nathanael says:

        The interlocking fix has been repeatedly delayed due to other work in the immediate vicinity, including the “tunnel box” for Gateway. It’s still planned but they just can’t seem to get the windows to close service down to do the work.

  12. SomeGuy32 says:

    remember when the NYC Council thought they were going to ‘evict’ MSG and get Penn Station rebuilt themselves, even though they had absolutely no ownership of anything involved?

    Yeah… that was funny…

    Dolan went right to Cuomo and now they’re working together… thumbing their noses once again at the incompetent “local leaders”.

    (and nobody ever had any intention of improving MSG rail capacity or rail efficiency…. they just want a pretty Penn Station building – although with private input they hopefully can do something to maximize long term commercial space revenue.)

  13. JJJJ says:

    Penn Station has a serious capacity issue.

    Insufficient bathroom capacity.

    The fact that PANY has more bathrooms than Penn should set off all sorts of alarm bells.

    No one gives a shit about dining options (you’re in NYC, theres plenty),but when you try and actually give a shit, well, you can’t.

    Fix that.

    • tacony says:

      That’s not a Penn Station problem. The subway system used to have bathrooms all over the place but almost all are closed permanently, and most of the ones still there are just “temporarily” closed all the time. The brand new bathrooms at the new Hudson Yards station have been closed most of the time since the station’s been open.

      Public restrooms require constant cleaning, emotionally disturbed individuals are legally entitled to shuttle themselves around the subway system and defile them, and public agencies’ response has been to simply not provide restrooms. The NJ Transit men’s room at Penn basically always has homeless people camping out in the stalls or they are unusable because of what someone did to them. It doesn’t seem that anything about a new Penn Station would change that.

      Grand Central’s solution was to realize that the emotionally disturbed who camp out in bathrooms and defile them are 99% men, so after renovations they nixed the men’s and provided women with a clean new bathroom upstairs, while the men’s rooms below remain filthy.

      • adirondacker12800 says:

        Instead one or two huge bathrooms 4 or 6 or 8 smaller ones. That are open 22 hours a day on a rotating basis.

      • JJJJ says:

        If my memory is correct, the NJT mens room has 3 stalls and the Amtrak one has 6.

        Thats a health crisis.

        Stop the excuses. Build to code.

    • AG says:

      Judging by how packed the dining options at Grand Central are – I think people do care.
      Not to mention – as someone who had to wait on his Amtrak train last week – I was dismayed that my main sit down option was TGI Fridays.

      • tacony says:

        Next time that happens, walk over past the LIRR ticket windows and check out Tracks Raw Bar (or head for its’ back entrance through the Hilton corridor toward the 1/2/3 entrance). Walk all the way through the narrow corridor past the bar and there are seats in the back with table service. A little cheaper than TGI Fridays for better food. The Times did a decent write-up of it in 2013: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10......html?_r=0

        The dining options at Grand Central are packed with tourists. I know some people view tourism as the best(/easiest?) economic driver in New York and see nothing wrong with that, but cities that rely on tourism alone have sad, stunted economies. You can’t run a city on low wage tourism jobs. Look at a city like New Orleans for instance. The energy industry left it for Houston and it basically now exists for tourists alone. Penn Station has to work for regular users, and it needs more capacity for more trains, wider platforms, and more space for pedestrian circulation. Upscale food options are a far less important priority.

        • AG says:

          But that’s the point – I shouldn’t have to go walk and search for somewhere to sit and eat.

          Where do you get your numbers for tourists being the main diners at GCT? Many commuters I know – including myself have dined in there. Do you have some insider information? The vast majority of the people I’ve seen look like they work in the area.

          Also – tourism jobs are #5 or 6 in NYC’s economy… I’m not sure why on earth you are comparing it to New Orleans.

  14. CSS says:

    What happened to the city only renewing MSG’s right to operate for another decade so they could move to arena and demolish the existing one? That would allow for them to truly open up the station, improve passenger flow, and build a nice head house that could rival in function to the original Penn. I’ve seen many commentators say they should rebuild it as it was. Nice idea, but I’m sure insanely costly – I’m curious as to how much that would cost in 2016 dollars. Simply building something within the same footprint of the old Penn that is airy and contemporary while paying some homage to the original would be perfect. That, and adding provisions for added transit capacity once Gateway comes online.
    Just demolishing the theater for a glassy entrance on the 8th Avenue side and rebuilding the concourse isn’t enough. You only have once chance to get this right, and this is a half-assed solution being rushed so that it can be completed before Cuomo leaves office.

    • Jeff says:

      Cuomo is not the city. The plan to move MSG was unrealistic anyway since no city official would have the balls to do that to Dolan. Plus where would they move the MSG to? As the NYCFC soccer stadium has shown its downright impossible to find a spot to build a stadium in the city these days.

      This proposal is more of a compromise than anything. Considering they’ve been negotiating this deal on and off for more than 10 years I wouldn’t call it a rushed solution either.

      • Ryan says:

        54 Avenue, between Center Blvd and 2 St in Queens. You’re welcome.

        If you want to pay for the decking job as an incentive to get MSG to go quietly, Sunnyside or LIC yards are both extremely valuable, highly transit-accessible, centralized parcels that could host MSG5. LIC and the parcel I just pointed out combined could actually handle both MSG AND the NYCFC Stadium.

        • AG says:

          Sounds good but won’t happen. The convention industry refused to be relocated to Queens – which is why Cuomo relented and just announced this week that the state will expand the Javits in place. No way MSG (which is even busier) goes to Sunnyside. Also – they won’t “go quietly”. Why does everyone seem to forget you have to compensate them. That adds more than $1.5 billion before anything even moves. NYCFC should have gone right at the site they found just south of Yankee Stadium (the Yanks are part owners). The mayor killed that one to prove a point as he just got into office.

          • Maggie says:

            Convention center in Secaucus. Or let it pay its own way in Manhattan.

            • AG says:

              Huh? What? No – the Javits is not moving to Secaucus… It wouldn’t go to QUeens and you think it will go to Secaucus???
              “Pay it’s own way”? What? The convention businesses is subsidized in any city. Why? It brings in other business. You really think whether in Queens or Secaucus it would “pay it’s own way”?????

              • Maggie says:

                Why? Why would NYC or NYS want to subsidize a convention center on the Hudson Riverfront? Really – look up the convention center’s own claims for the numbers of tourists it brings and spending it generates, relative to NYC’s overall tourism inflows. Weigh that against the enormous subsidies the convention center is asking for. To tie this back to Robert Moses, look at the enormous value – public and private – of the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, once Moses’s failed New York Coliseum finally was demolished and Related redeveloped it.

                • AG says:

                  So you are really trying to tell me a major city shouldn’t have a major convention center??? The reality is the Javits has the highest booking rate. There are plenty of shows it can’t hold now just because it’s not big enough. Comparing Javits to the Coliseum is ludicrous.
                  Btw – the Javits is not “asking” for anything. It’s run by the State of NY.

                  As to the “why”? The cities that NY is competing with for conventions are Chicago, Las Vegas, Orlando, Atlanta. All of them have subsidized facilities. All of them are also less expensive than NY (and only Chicago is another cold city). Shows that come to NY don’t come to go to Secaucus or Aqueduct Racetrack. That’s not my words – but the industry.

                  • Maggie says:

                    So let the auto show book itself in Atlanta and let’s put the billion and a half dollars in state taxpayers’ money to work somewhere else.

                    NYC in 2014 drew 56.5 million visitors, 44.5 million of them domestic, and total visitors direct spending was $41 billion.

                    The convention center’s full annual economic impact, direct and indirect, is stated at $1.8 billion, with two million visitors. It’s a drop in the bucket.

                    I don’t mean to be overly disagreeable here, by the way. I just see Cuomo’s spraying over a billion at this, after fighting with the city for a year over funding necessary infrastructure and raising the revenue to pay for it, as a startling sign that he’s way off the rails.

                    • AG says:

                      Maybe you should go read where the funding for the Javits expansion is coming from before making such statements….

                      Also it takes a lot of drops to full the bucket. When you spring a leak – then you realize. $1.8 billion is nothing to sneeze at… Not even for a billionaire.

                      And no – the car show won’t go to Atlanta – NYC is too big a market (though Mercedes and Porsche left the area with their headquarters for Atlanta)… It’s about taking big shows from other markets.

                    • Maggie says:

                      No problem, this is how the NYT lays out the funding. (This week’s scheme involves demolishing Javits North, which was completed two years ago in a publicly funded $463 million construction plan?)

                      State officials said the center was exploring using “existing resources” and other public and private financing options to pay for the project. Real estate executives expect the center to sell two nearby parcels of land for about $1 billion, although state officials would not say whether that was part of the plan.

                      Some elected officials, the hotel workers’ union and the hotel association lauded the governor’s plan, which comes less than two years after the state completed a $463 million makeover of the convention center, which included the addition of Javits North.

                      http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01.....enter.html

                    • AG says:

                      Yes – the press release noted exactly that it would use the Javits “existing resources”. Yes that parcel was a weakened expansion that was downgraded for a lack of funds… Very similar to the way the #7 extension went from 2 stations to 1. So this is basically just selling land belonging to the Javits in order to build something closer to what the real expansion should have been years ago…
                      In effect – this is not different than the PA using airport fees to pay for mass transit. The state was never going to kill the Javits and the economic activity it generates. So this is a good deal. It’s not taking money from anywhere else.

                  • Bolwerk says:

                    If you want to compete with Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Orlando for conventions, you’re already dealing with the types of people who don’t want to see a city and would be happy not to leave their airport. Sherman had the right idea about what to do to Atlanta, and otherwise it basically is an airport. For this crowd, Aqueduct or Secaucus would be rather perfect.

                    For people who do want to be in NYC, for real, I find it rather unlikely that there wouldn’t be convention space in the absence of a subsidized convention center. Even if the convention center couldn’t be borne on the “free” market, hotels would take up the niche.

                    The only competitive niches NYC really has for conventions are local, regional and international. Regional because we’re pretty centered nicely between Boston, DC, and our own suburbs. International because trans-Atlantic flights are readily available. With the caveat that maybe some industries like finance would prefer to be here.

                    • AG says:

                      Not sure what you are talking about… The Javits has the highest booking rate of any convention center in any major city. What it can’t do is host the biggest shows that go to Chicago – Vegas – Orlando. That’s what the issue is. Hotels could never host those types of shows. Those are the shows that bring in the most guests – which means they add more to the economy than a regional show does. It’s not about just attracting more shows – but the size of the shows.
                      I also don’t get why you think Secaucus or Aqueduct would work when they specifically told the task force that they would have no desire. If you recall – Aqueduct was the governor and his team’s idea. The industry shut it down – which is why they are expanding Javits now.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      I have no problem with conventions, but why subsidize something with the highest rate of bookings in the country already? We don’t have to beg people to come here like it’s 1984.

                      …when they specifically told the task force that they would have no desire.

                      So a bunch of professional grifters tell politicians they will only take the best and, oh noes, disaster and woe if they don’t get it? And we should believe them?

                      I don’t doubt they would prefer Manhattan for the sheer number of restaurants and bars to gorge and drink in. But people who are willing to go to Atlanta or Orlando, or even Vegas, just don’t seem like the kind of people who would have a pretense about going to Aqueduct or Secaucus instead.

                    • AG says:

                      Why? Cities compete with each other… No other reason than that. Does Orlando say “ah – we get enough tourists and conventions – we don’t care if they go to Vegas”? No they don’t.
                      We could also not subsidize anything else that brings visitors – like the museums and botanical gardens and anything else. Take away tax breaks for television and Broadway theatre too. Then what?

                      As to:

                      “I don’t doubt they would prefer Manhattan for the sheer number of restaurants and bars to gorge and drink in. But people who are willing to go to Atlanta or Orlando, or even Vegas, just don’t seem like the kind of people who would have a pretense about going to Aqueduct or Secaucus instead.”

                      The same could be said for every single industry in NYC – specifically Manhattan. Why do the fashion houses not move to Jamaica – or the finance industry to Aqueduct or the advertising industry to Secaucus? Well I tell you that many NYC industries have moved lower level jobs to places like Atlanta and Central Florida already because they are cheaper… Been going on for at least 20 years now.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      Not every dumb thing is something you should try to compete on. There is comparative advantage to consider, or the expense of developing a comparative advantage. Orlando can’t out-foodie us, and Las Vegas can’t out-Broadway us, but either can throw empty space at convention halls more cheaply than we can. So can Chicago, and it’s much more centrally located for the American convention circuit than we are.

                    • AG says:

                      Yes – I seem to notice that anything you don’t agree with is “dumb”.

                      In any event – you keep missing the point. None of those is the issue. There are many of the largest shows that WANT to be in NYC – simply because this is the biggest and richest market. They currently CANNOT because we don’t have a venue large enough. This has been a story for over 20 years. Those huge lucrative shows (like the Consumer Electronics Show) go to those cities because they can facilitate them. For many years NYC lacked hotel rooms in comparison to Orlando and Vegas. That part has been remedied with the hotel construction boom. The square footage of the facility hasn’t improved enough.

                    • adirondacker12800 says:

                      There aren’t many shows that fill the Las Vegas Convention Center. Let Las Vegas scramble to keep the out size center filled.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      No, dumb things are dumb independently of whether I disagree with them. And I haven’t missed anything. I said I don’t have a problem with them coming here, and I don’t except maybe I’m not thrilled about the accompanying security theater. I just don’t see why New York taxpayers should be asked to subsidize oversized convention centers so you can have the dubious pleasure of witnessing six figures of weeaboos shattering some smaller city’s attendance rates.

                    • AG says:

                      Well did you not miss the part that says this isn’t coming out of direct taxpayer funds????

                      In any event – even if it was – I can think of many other things that are truly a waste of taxpayer funds..

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      No, I didn’t miss that. I would actually much prefer that it did just come directly from taxpayer-derived revenue. I regard it as much less odious when politicians just admit whom they are giving money to rather than sneak it into tax breaks or tax credits that somehow never quite seem to apply to me.

                      This shit where bad/dumb stuff happens year after year and everybody has plausible deniability is flat out the biggest thing wrong with nearly every level of government.

    • AG says:

      Getting rid of MSG entirely adds $2 billion to the the project. It wasn’t viable.
      Sure it’s a compromise.. Like most things in life.

  15. mister says:

    The bigger issue here is one that is only briefly mentioned in the post. The $22 Billion for roads, largely upstate roads, is a huge sum of money. Other articles mention that this is part of an initiative to bring spending parity back between DOT and MTA. However, even if we ignore Ben’s point about parity between upstate and downstate spending, this still doesn’t add up.

    Cuomo is only proposing that the State kick in $8.3 billion into MTA’s capital plan. The remainder of the funding from the program is coming from Federal and local sources. Further, MTA has accumulated a lot of debt because the state has refused to fund MTA’s capital plans. Suddenly, the proposal is that the state kick in funds nearly equaling, not what the state contributes to MTA, but what the MTA is able to receive from ALL funding sources. So the state spends $22 Billion on upstate roads and $8.3 Billion on the MTA? No funding provided for SAS phase 2, not to mention phase 3? How is this parity?

    • Nathanael says:

      I can’t even think what we’d do with $22 billion for roads upstate.

      We do need to tear some highways down (Buffalo Skyway, Rochester Innerbelt, Syracuse I-81). And we certainly need the $6 billion high speed rail plan. But Cuomo isn’t funding either of these.

      • adirondacker12800 says:

        The last one was 13 billionish for Albany to Buffalo if I remember correctly. And a bad one.

        • Nathanael says:

          There was a pretty good study quite recently which was ~$6 billion for Albany to Buffalo at 110 mph top speed, ~65 mph average.

          Which makes it faster than driving. Good Enough For Now.

          • adirondacker12800 says:

            If I did the arithmetic correctly the fastest train between Buffalo and Albany has an average speed of 61.
            15 billion gets you 225mph with an average of 175 and less than two hours between Albany and Buffalo. Syracuse is more or less halfway between. So an hour to Albany. And one day another hour to New York and few minutes more to Boston and few minutes more than that to Montreal.

          • Bolwerk says:

            That’s actually quite shitty. Nearly 7 hours of travel time to Buffalo. It’s okay to Syracuse.

            Average speeds should be closer to 100 mph. 450 miles to Bufalo averaging 90 mph is 5 hours, actually competitive with airlines between NYC and Buffalo.

            • adirondacker12800 says:

              It’s the densest corridor outside of the NEC. 110 mph trains can’t share track on busy freight lines. They catch up to the next freight. Spend a bit more and make it full blown HSR with average speeds of 175. If it doesn’t have average speeds of 175 things like Boston-Cleveland or Philadelphia-Syracuse aren’t possible. Or hour long bus rides from Ithaca to Syracuse for three hour trips to New York. Spend the extra money and go for full blown HSR.

              • Bolwerk says:

                HSR calls for dedicated tracks anyway. If you need to run freight during passenger service times, you need dedicated passenger tracks.

                Anyway, isn’t it a largely single-tracked corridor that has room for four tracks?

                • adirondacker12800 says:

                  It’s a very busy freight line, all of New England is east of Albany, It’s double tracked from Schenectady to someplace obscure in Ohio. It’s going to be double tracked to Rensselaer soon. And except for a short stretch in Manhattan, double tracked to Washington DC.

                  110 isn’t high speed. If you want to go 126 it has to be grade separated. If you want to go 151 it has to electrified – it’s difficult to carry enough fuel at those speeds. The cost to build full blown HSR isn’t that much more than half-baked 126. Just build the 225 ROW.

              • AG says:

                You are correct – but that idea was already killed…

  16. AG says:

    I don’t like Cuomo – but he can’t be expected to talk about Gateway since NYS is only a 1/3 stakeholder in that.
    In any event – Amtrak wants to build Penn South and move NJ Transit to that. Not sure how that will mesh.
    That said – if this is paid with a lot of private money (in exchange for retail rights) – then I really have nothing to complain about. Even Dolan is willing to let them take away the Theater attached to the Garden.

  17. JamesT says:

    The Penn Station Visioning Study has been ongoing since 2012 and earlier, and these renderings are a result.

    These renderings are circa mid 2013. See additional unreleased (by Cuomo) renderings here: http://www.ajsny.com/pennstation

    Also, all of these renderings were made public about a year ago, albeit a soft release on the Book of Faces.
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.815747195165516.1073741870.147389045334671&type=3

  18. Tower18 says:

    Penn Station is un-New York: it is dark, it is constrained, it is ugly, it is dated architecture, it is a lost opportunity. Travelers are relegated to a bleak warren of corridors

    It’s funny, almost all of those things are actually quite “New York”. This city is dark, dirty, constrained, occasionally dated, and filled with people existing in bleak warrens.

    Only partly facetious.

    • Bolwerk says:

      Most of the east side is a shitbomb of some of the ugliest modernist architecture outside the former Eastern Bloc. That includes “nice” developments, like Stuyvesant Town.

      If we are going to debate improve city aesthetics, that area seems like a much easier problem to solve. And more impactful, since most people spend all day in their neighborhoods, while only spending a few minutes in Penn.

  19. Rebelfish says:

    …with services for passengers to… the new Air Train to LaGuardia Airport.
    Would Cuomo’s LaGuardia air link be any less awful if instead of a dumb shuttle connecting to a large-headway LIRR station, it was actually a new route of the LIRR with a one-seat ride to Penn Station?

  20. Nathanael says:

    I really don’t think Cuomo will be re-elected governor in 2018. He’s been making too many enemies.

    Hopefully he’s figured this out and is planning to retire in 2018. This would explain his urgency in trying to open the new Penn station in *THREE YEARS*… before he leaves office.

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