In an effort to find a way to connect Metro-North lines with Manhattan’s West Side, the MTA is working with the Extell to plan a new station at the real estate company’s Riverside South development. The new property is a 75-acre development on the site of the former New York Central Railroad’s 60th St. yards, and a Metro-North stop with quick access to Grand Central could greatly enhance the area’s appeal.
The West Side Spirit, a community newspaper covering the Upper West Side, first reported on talks between Extell and the MTA last week. This development came about at the behest of City Council Member Gale Brewer who reached out to Howard Permut, the president of Metro-North.
At some point soon, Robert MacLagger, the acting V.P. for planning with the railroad agency, will meet with Brewer and the developments to discuss the potential for this project. “The next step is to conduct further analysis of this potential station location and others,” Permut said in a letter to the council member.
For her part, Brewer expressed her belief that adding this access point to an area devoid of subway routes would encourage people in this new development to take the train. “It’s positive. It was nice to get this letter,” Brewer said of her response from Metro-North. “I can’t think of a better way to add transportation and get people out of their car.”
Expanding Metro-North access is a very positive goal. The tracks run right through this development, and a station there would make the area more transit-accessible while encouraging potential drivers to eschew cars. To make this station stop work, though, the MTA would have to set low fares from 60th St. to Grand Central, and if this stop ever comes to pass, the agency should make inter-system transfers available for those continuing on via subway.
(Ed. Note: As Marc notes in the comments to this post, one of the benefits actually doesn’t require an adjusted fare. This station would allow Metro-North to run trains into Penn Station via the Amtrak lines. Once the LIRR shifts some operations to Grand Central following the completion of the LIRR East Side Access project, the track space at Penn Station would open up as well.)
I would also encourage a substantial fiscal contribution to any potential project from Extell. A stop on the Far West Side at 60th St. would greatly enhance the appeal and value of the new developments, and real estate companies that stand to benefit from city expenditures should contribute to those projects.