Home Moynihan Station Cuomo’s new Moynihan Station plan restarts debate over Penn’s future

Cuomo’s new Moynihan Station plan restarts debate over Penn’s future

by Benjamin Kabak
The Moynihan train hall will open by the end of December 2020. (Credit: SOM)

The Moynihan train hall will open by the end of December 2020. (Credit: SOM)

It’s hard to find a space in New York City transit planning as hotly contested as Penn Station. The destruction of the original Beaux-Arts masterpiece hangs over the city and echoes throughout today’s conservationism and landmarking process, and the current Penn Station rivals Laguardia as the city’s most scorned transportation space. Shoved under Madison Square Garden and operated as three separate fiefdoms by Amtrak, the LIRR and New Jersey Transit, the current iteration is a drab entryway to the city with poor wayfinding and passenger flow. It is constantly subject to fanciful ideas for improvement.

In early 2016, as part of his State of the State tour, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the Empire Station Complex, a redesigned Penn Station that involved shifting much of the passenger areas to Farley Post Office building west of 8th Ave. and perhaps demolishing the Theater at Madison Square Garden to open space for grand public entrance. It followed decades of wheel-spinning over the so-called Moynihan Station plan and recent NYC rumblings concerning Madison Square Garden’s occupancy permit covering the space above Penn Station. Many people seem to think that to fix Penn Station, and retain its usefulness as a rail hub in between the 7th and 8th Ave. subway lines, the Garden will have to go.

That, however, may not be in the card as Gov. Cuomo announced last week a $1.5 billion plan to build out Moynihan Station and fix up the preexisting parts of Penn Station. Related, Vornado and Skanska will collaborate on a 255,000 square-foot train hall in the old post office that will house the LIRR and Amtrak (though it’s not clear what becomes of New Jersey Transit or why these three entities can’t better collaborate on the use of this space). The project will include 112,000 square feet of retail in Moynihan Station, making it the third transit mall the city has built in recent years, and an additional 588,000 square feet of office space. This thing, funded somehow, will be completed by the end of 2020.

The redesigned LIRR concourse will feature wider passageways, bright ceilings and new wayfinding. (Credit: MTA)

The redesigned LIRR concourse will feature wider passageways, bright ceilings and new wayfinding. (Credit: MTA)

Within the existing Penn Station, the MTA will redesign the LIRR’s 33rd St. concourse with higher ceiling, brighter lighting, wider concourses and new wayfinding signs. Additionally, the two Penn Station subway stops will be modernized under Cuomo’s plan to update the look and feel of the subway system. (The renovations will not include reconfiguring tracks to allow for same-direction, cross-platform transfers between local and express trains.) And that was it.

“New York’s tomorrow depends on what we do today, and the new Moynihan Train Hall will be a world-class 21st century transportation hub,” Cuomo said in his remarks. “With more than twice the passengers of all JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark airports combined, the current Penn Station is overcrowded, decrepit, and claustrophobic. The Moynihan Train Hall will have more space than Grand Central’s main concourse, housing both Amtrak and LIRR ticketing and waiting areas, along with state-of-the-art security features, a modern, digital passenger experience, and a host of dining and retail options. This is not a plan – this is what’s going to happen. People are going to walk through this station and recognize that this is New York.”

The Moynihan train hall will cost $1.5 billion with all partners contributing funding. (Source: Gov. Cuomo's office)

The Moynihan train hall will cost $1.5 billion with all partners contributing funding. (Source: Gov. Cuomo’s office)

Now, don’t get me wrong: Penn Station is not a particularly pleasant train station for anyone, and it needs to be nicer. But redesigning Penn Station without addressing the trans-Hudson capacity concerns at the same time make me worry that we’re simply repeating the mistakes of the PATH World Trade Center station. How many billions can we spend on transit malls and fanciful headhouses without addressing operational issues (such as through running) or trans-Hudson capacity constraints (such as new tunnels)? On the bright side, Cuomo mentioned “coordination” with the Gateway Tunnels and indicated in another presentation that an announcement on Gateway funding and the project’s future may be coming soon. But shifting a busy commuter rail stop one long block away from nearby subways and not addressing capacity constraints seems short-sighted to say the least.

Meanwhile, while Cuomo controls the purse strings and can actually get something built, he’s not the only one with a vision for Penn Station. In The Times this past weekend, Michael Kimmelman highlighted Vishaan Chakrabarti’s plan to redo Penn Station by eliminating Madison Square Garden. Chakrabarti’s plan retains the Garden’s shape but removes the arena. He repurposes the building as an entrance to Penn Station and believes it would cost less than the Moynihan project while retaining access to subways. Unfortunately, a year after one of his top aides landed a plum spot at MSG, Cuomo has repeatedly said that the Garden isn’t going anywhere. “It’s called Madison Square Garden, and it’s private and they own it and they want to leave it there,” he said yesterday in comments. This too seems awfully short-sighted.

As the city has digested Cuomo’s proposals, it seems that the Empire Station Complex idea has fallen by the wayside. Dana Rubinstein reported that the elements east of 8th Ave. will take longer. We don’t know what will happen to New Jersey Transit or how Gateway truly fits in with this new train hall. The RPA and MSA both called on Cuomo to be more aggressive in relocating MSG and more vocal in plans for increased trans-Hudson rail capacity (although one Cuomo ally who will soon head up the RPA may temper these calls, Politico New York recently reported).

So for now, it seems the future of Penn Station is a nicer train hall that’s less convenient for train riders. It’s an expensive gamble with an unclear funding picture and one that may or may not include the more badly needed Gateway project. It rights a wrong in the design of Penn Station but seems to be a siloed project and not one that holistically reimagines train operations under the Hudson River and into and through Penn Station. Much like many other Cuomo plans, it almost gets us to where we need to be. But without further additions, it’s going to fall short of the region’s needs, and that’s the bigger lost opportunity yet.

You may also like


JRS October 6, 2016 - 12:14 pm

Trans-Hudson Capacity
During Coumo’s October 5th press conference, announcing upgrades to bridges and tunnels, the Governor said “We’re about to announce funding for the Gateway Tunnel…because those tunnels are collapsing.”

Penn Station
There apparently is still work going on to potentially redevelop all of Penn Station (and not just the LIRR 33rd Street Concourse). This is from MTA’s September 27 press release regarding the Penn-Farley projects:

“In January, Empire State Development, Amtrak, and the MTA issued a Request for Expressions of Interest for redeveloping Penn Station. As Amtrak relocates to the Moynihan Train Hall, the RFEI responses provided ideas for the future proposed redevelopment of the current Amtrak concourse that will be incorporated into concepts previously suggested by the railway operators. ESD will partner with Amtrak on the creation of an RFP for the concourse.

Matt October 10, 2016 - 2:12 pm

But redeveloping the Amtrak concourse isn’t enough. Amtrak, ESD, MTA don’t own the garden. They only own the station below it.

Thomas October 6, 2016 - 12:15 pm

“echoes throughout today’s conservativism”

You lost me on this comment, Ben.

Benjamin Kabak October 6, 2016 - 12:26 pm

Whoops. I have politics on the mind. That’s “conservationism.” I’ve fixed it.

Billy G October 6, 2016 - 5:15 pm

Why alter the subway platforms? Sides + center = more standing room!

Trump 2016!

He will MAGA all over everything!

Marc Shepherd October 6, 2016 - 12:24 pm

How many billions can we spend on transit malls and fanciful headhouses without addressing operational issues (such as through running) or trans-Hudson capacity constraints (such as new tunnels)?

I think you’re wrongly lumping this into the same category as Fulton Street and the WTC PATH Terminal. Just about everyone thinks there should be a new Penn Station. This is quite different from the other two, which were never before suggested as necessary, before 9/11 funding dropped into their hands.

If it is built at all, what do you want…a piece of crap with no retail? That seems to be what you’re suggesting. Through running and Gateway are both long overdue, but they’re totally independent from the new station, which would be needed in any case.

VLM October 6, 2016 - 12:27 pm

Did you read all the way to the end or simply latch on to the first comment you didn’t like? As Ben notes, cleaning up and beautifying Penn Station is a welcome start, but it has to be a start. It’s not clear from Cuomo’s comments if he understands that, and the fatal flaw of this proposal is siting the main train hall west of 8th and away from the subways at 7th Ave. and Herald Square.

Marc Shepherd October 6, 2016 - 1:23 pm

Yes, I read the whole thing. Cuomo mentioned Gateway in his comments, so the Governor clearly does understand that. I am not sure what you and Ben feel would be gained if Cuomo bided his time, and waited to announce the station project at a future date.

It’s hardly “fatal” to put the new station at the Farley site, though I agree there are strong arguments that MSG would be better. On the other hand, getting the Garden to move is not so easy to pull off, and maybe the station we can have is better than the imaginary one we can’t.

Alon Levy October 6, 2016 - 2:26 pm

You have a station right now under MSG. It has low ceilings, but it’s a block closer to the center than Farley.

SEAN October 6, 2016 - 7:41 pm

Yes & the only way to correct the darkness along with the other issues at Penn Station is a complete gut renovation & removal of MSG/ 2 Penn plaza. Adding Farley can help the prospects for such a project by adding additional circulation points along with opportunities for retail, dining & station services.

lawhwak October 7, 2016 - 9:12 am

I’ve always wondered why it wouldn’t be possible to close off Penn Plaza and 33rd Streets to traffic to built out new skylights/access to interior portions of Penn Station since there seems to be one of the bugaboos of the current station layout (low roof, no light, cramped quarters, etc.)

It would seemingly be cheaper than building an entirely new station a block away that doesn’t add capacity – which is the thing commuters are more concerned with while any cost savings could be used to fund actual capacity increases in the form of aiding the funding for Gateway.

It wouldn’t require moving MSG or demolishing One Penn Plaza either – and we’ve already seen that temporary 33rd St closures have net positive results as a pedestrian plaza.

AG October 8, 2016 - 10:11 am

I think Amtrak’s “Penn South”plan might be something similar to what you say. They are the captain of the ship anyway – so I’m not sure why people pay attention to the MAS and RPA plans.

AG October 6, 2016 - 10:00 pm

What is this “fatal flaw” talk??? Walking a city block to get from one end to the other shouldn’t be fatal. How many people walk blocks to get to the subway from their jobs?? I just don’t get the angst and anxiety of having to walk a block underground.

JK October 7, 2016 - 1:04 am

Convenience is kind of the whole point of transit. I don’t get the angst of having to walk around Penn Station unadorned in the grandeur of the Belle Epoque.

Eric F October 7, 2016 - 8:52 am

NYers have the longest commutes in the country. Mass transit commutes are inherently slow due to the ‘last mile on foot’ dynamic and due to the time-consuming nature of transit transfers. This makes the problem worse for hundreds of thousands of people.

AG October 7, 2016 - 9:37 pm

I guess for someone who walks 6 blocks when they get off the train – it doesn’t make much difference to me.

AG October 8, 2016 - 1:15 pm

What you say is true of the PATH terminal but not Fulton. Fulton St. was always a labyrinth which perplexed commuters. It’s just that 9/11 provided the funding.

But yeah I agree – this and Gateway are separate. It’s also ironic that people bemoan retail but yet speak of the virtue of systems like Hong Kong and in Japan. Those systems control real estate and make money for the purpose of transit. These “mall terminals” are like a light version of such. They relieve the pressure on the taxpayers. I walk through Fulton and WTC and see all the stores. I’ve never spent any money in them… But the people shopping are indirectly paying for it.
Just for the record though… This station doesn’t have anything to do with capacity either. It was always about being a more pleasurable place. Amtrak’s plan for expansion is to add capacity to the south of the current station. So yeah – very independent. Amtrak says in the Gateway project outline that Farley/Moynihan will be connnected to Penn South via a concourse.

Spendmore Wastemor October 6, 2016 - 12:30 pm

Why the F do New Yorkers keep voting for that clown? “Daddy was famous” is about the extent of his value.

Tim October 6, 2016 - 5:09 pm

Because he funnels money away form the rich part of NY State (NYC area) and sends it to the rest of the state. NYC does not get back what it pays out. And the Upstate crowd votes for that.

Nathanael October 8, 2016 - 11:36 am

Absolute nonsense. Look at the vote patterns, dope. Upstate, rural upstate is still voting Republican.

Worse, the parts of upstate which did vote for Cuomo (the cities, naturally) aren’t really getting much from him. He’s got this scheme in Buffalo but it hasn’t produced anything yet. Rochester and Syracuse haven’t seen any money and have actually lost money. And poor old Binghamton.

Cuomo’s base is actually in Westchester County.

22 October 6, 2016 - 1:11 pm

why did he says “It’s called Madison Square Garden…”? If the name “Madison Square” had anything to do with the current incarnation of the arena, then the arena would be near Madison Square, not Penn Station….

22 October 6, 2016 - 1:12 pm

And also why not just move MSG over the western half of Farley/Moynihan? Seems like a no brainer.

Jeff October 6, 2016 - 8:21 pm

People keep suggesting this, but who’s paying for it?

AG October 6, 2016 - 10:01 pm

That plan died a decade ago. MSG was ready to go there but the planned failed. Now they just put over 1 billion into the current complex. That idea is dead. Not gonna happen in the next 3 decades.

John-2 October 7, 2016 - 9:03 am

It will be less than that — we live in an era where 20-year-old stadiums in Atlanta and the D-FW area are considered obsolete dinosaurs because they don’t have the latest billion-dollar bells and whistles, and the same thing will happen quite quickly with the recent MSG renovation.

The Dolans love the location for the same reason Irving Mitchell Felt did 50 years ago, in that it provides both subway and commuter rail access right to the building (and even the Port Authority and PATH are only a few blocks away). But they’ll be itching for an upgrade before the next decade is over because all owners want to have the most cutting-edge facility. That’s when the negotiation on upgrading Penn Station and a new Garden in that area will finally get serious.

AG October 7, 2016 - 7:27 pm

Those places are much cheaper to build those types of structures. They have plenty more space. Plus they have no history (the buildings). Not the same thing. MSG will probably move one day.. But people are wasting their breathe thinking it will happen anytime soon.

SEAN October 8, 2016 - 10:52 am

The issue with new stadium projects is two fold… 1. bells & whistles as already stated & 2. the issuance of bonds to pay for them. The latter is the key since someone is making a shitload of money from those bonds. Atlanta is rinsing & repeating.

John-2 October 8, 2016 - 9:31 pm

Dallas also had Reunion Arena for the Mavericks and Stars, which lasted all of 21 years before both teams moved to the American Airlines Center, which had the 21st Century luxury bells and whistles today’s pro-sports owners wanted (including, in this case, Mark Cuban). So even indoor arenas nowadays can fall into obsolescence faster than some of the star players in the sports they host can break into the league and retire.

AG October 9, 2016 - 9:20 am

Dallas is not a good comparison. They are MUCH cheaper to build an arena and have much more space. And again – those buildings have no cache. MSG even before the renovation was the #2 indoor concert venue in the world after O2 in London. And that’s only because they have teams playing in them full time. Playing MSG is still the prominent concert venue. Not true of any of those arenas in Dallas or Atlanta or anywhere else. Even brand new Barclay’s – which is #3 in the country – can’t overtake MSG now that it’s renovated. But in any event – Amtrak controls Penn – Amtrak wants to expand to the south as part of Gateway. They have zero desire in trying to buy out MSG. In another 20 or 30 years if the owners of MSG decide they amortized their capital costs and want to move – then something may happen.. But no one can predict what the market will look like. State and Amtrak officials know full well it would be too expensive to try to get MSG to move once the permit expires in 7 or 8 years. The city won’t want to pay the court costs either to fight over the permit. The governor even gave up the idea of destroying the Theater at MSG – which the owners actually did decide to “give up” (since they own Rockefeller Center now the Theater is superfluous). Recall that the owners were even there with the governor stating they were willing to give up the Theater… But it seems the cost was going to be too high even with the private developers putting up the money. Trying to get the whole arena to move is just a non-starter. When the plan was to move to Farley – that was because THEY (the owners) wanted to move at the time. That deal fell through and they decided to stay put. Forcing them to move is a much more expensive proposition. Moving them in 8 years is basically a dead idea.

Peter October 6, 2016 - 1:22 pm

I think the Garden can still be coaxed away eventually, as long as a suitable replacement site is provided. It’s already one of the oldest arenas in the country and it’s not going to last forever, despite the recent reno. It’s a tragedy that the Spitzer-era negotiations failed, or today we’d be talking about a new MSG at the Farley site and a proper Penn Station redevelopment. Instead, we’re probably now looking at a couple more decades before a relocation. If Cuomo actually had any vision, that’s the future planning we’d be discussing now. Oh, but he doesn’t do “plans.”

In the interim, I think Moynihan is an okay way to provide some more circulation space and a gateway to the growing far west side, but it should be treated as an annex to the main station, not a replacement, and the western end of that block should be preserved as the site for a future new MSG.

The hidden gem in Cuomo’s latest announcement may be the enlargement of the LIRR north concourse, but why are we settling for an LED “fake sky” ceiling? Shut down 33rd Street and punch out some honest-to-god skylights and new entry points (didn’t the original “Empire Station” concept include some renderings along these lines?). And does anyone know how they intend to achieve this widening? Are they ripping out that row of retail and the Kmart?

Jon October 6, 2016 - 1:41 pm

No matter how they proceed with Penn Station renovation/relocation, I’m not too concerned about inconvenience to the 7th Ave subway because the location of the platforms are fixed. Whether MSG is demolished or if they build a new hall across 8th Ave, the platforms are staying in the exact location they are now. So doesn’t that mean the east ends of every platform will still have staircases/escalators that drop you off right by the 7th Ave subway?

Nathanael October 8, 2016 - 11:37 am

Yes, yes, it does.

There’s no harm in moving the ticket hall.

Roger October 6, 2016 - 2:29 pm

What is wrong with Penn Station? It is certainly not as majestic as Grand Central but do we really need another Fulton Center/WTC “Hub” instead of having SAS Phase 2 done?

Adirondacker12800 October 6, 2016 - 3:38 pm

Amtrak wants to quadruple their ridership by 2040. NJTransit was projecting ridership to increase 60 percent by 2030, if the tunnels had been completed by now> LIRR ridership isn’t going down. Where are they all going to go in 2033? Climb on each other’s shoulders to get down to the platforms?

AG October 6, 2016 - 11:05 pm

That’s the answer right there.

JJJ October 6, 2016 - 2:34 pm

Cuomo has a hard on for sending commuters west, west, west.

MordyK October 6, 2016 - 2:38 pm

Speaking of through-running: The recent highlight of the disastrous failings at NJT, is an opportunity to begin a conversation about a new management and funding structure for the region’s railroads, which can include the possibility of combining the railroads into a regional entity akin to the port authority, while learning lessons from the mistakes of the PA.

pete October 7, 2016 - 6:30 pm

Not happening. “MTA Rail” is dead. Im not sure anyone was layed off between MTA Bus and NYCT Bus either. Union rules make it impossible to combine the railroads or allow through running.

Adirondacker12800 October 8, 2016 - 4:07 am

Amtrak runs through everyday. MetroNorth hands off a train to NJTransit 12 times a year on Sundays when there is a football game.

MordyK October 17, 2016 - 12:42 pm

In the private sector mergers force union’s to merge as well, and after the initial hiccups things move on. Its a question of vision and leadership!

Nathanael November 2, 2016 - 2:10 pm

LIRR is a mess, but it’s a tough nut to crack. Whoever decides to fix LIRR is going to have to focus on that full-time for years. Right now I think the subways simply take higher priority, so LIRR’s nest of corruption will just fester a bit longer.

Metro-North is actually one of the best-run agencies in the country by many measures.

ItsEasyBeingGreen October 6, 2016 - 2:59 pm

They’re going to spend money redoing the LIRR concourse again without combining it with the rest of the underground space?

Also MSG gets all the attention but 2 Penn Plaza looks like an even bigger structural problem to me. Nobody is gonna move that building.

Webster October 6, 2016 - 5:22 pm

Come on, I feel that so much of the discussion had about this project is assuming the second part of what was announced for Empire (er, Penn-Farley) isn’t a serious part of the plan, anymore.

As quoted in the Politico piece, linked above, “It would be one thing if we were building a train station in the middle of a cornfield,” said Coscia. “But we’re building one in the busiest train station in North America. So the only way you could possibly do anything meaningful with Penn Station is if you find a way to vacate significant portions of the station that are currently being used.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/states.....z4MLHsOfBM
Follow us: @politico on Twitter | Politico on Facebook

It would appear to me that the main objective is to clear as much space in the existing facility so that it can be drastically reconfigured. -once a significant amount of ticketing, passenger, and retail facilities are able to move to Farley/Moynihan. The existing station isn’t going anywhere, and I got no indication that Farley is intended to be a replacement for it.

I don’t get the all or nothing argument that any station improvements HAVE to coincide with track-level improvements…it’s like asking us to wait for ‘Godot.’

Peter October 6, 2016 - 9:50 pm

Cuomo’s plan envisions a full relocation of Amtrak and redevelopment of the railroad’s old space under the Garden. Per the governor’s statement last month:

As Amtrak relocates to the Moynihan Train Hall, the RFEI responses provided ideas for the future proposed redevelopment of the current Amtrak concourse that will be incorporated into concepts previously suggested by the railway operators. ESD will partner with Amtrak on the creation of an RFP for the concourse.

What that development ultimately entails is anyone’s guess at this point, but my bet would be MORE SHOPPING!! Perhaps in their benevolence, the state and Amtrak will cede a portion of the space to NJ Transit to expand its footprint. But apparently the LIRR won’t be using any of it because Cuomo wants to shift substantial LIRR operations into Farley, while apparently preserving existing platform access points at Penn.

I don’t have a problem with utilizing the post office to open up more passenger space, particularly if the prospect of moving MSG is distant or impossible. But it ought to be treated as an additional, secondary access point for passengers of all three railroads and therefore ought to be constructed much less grandly. The majority of riders will continue to rely on the eastern part of the complex because that’s where more riders are coming to/from. Amtrak and the LIRR can coerce people through the post office but that doesn’t mean it will be it more convenient for them.

AG October 6, 2016 - 11:06 pm

Nah – NJT is supposed to expand to “Penn South” as the overall Gateway Project takes shape.

Webster October 7, 2016 - 8:59 am

It is secondary…

The original RFO which included Farley mentions planned improvements to Penn, as well:

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. Renderings of all of these options are available in the Governor’s presentation.


Moving operations of LIRR and Amtrak to farley doesn’t force passengers to use Farley for access, and doesn’t mean services won’t continue to use existing platforms…

The point is, the retail portions of these developments help pay for the improvements, and future maintenance and renovations. I don’t know why we suddenly are saying “no retail” when, for years, the dogma has been that these hubs should be destinations unto themselves.

Webster October 7, 2016 - 9:02 am


I also still can’t get the blockquote thing quite right ¯\_(?)_/¯

Peter October 7, 2016 - 1:25 pm

If Amtrak retains its current model of herding passengers into their waiting lobby, announcing a track number and then boarding through a single stairwell then the move to Farley will, effectively, force most riders into Farley. (Penn aficionados know how to avoid Amtrak’s silly boarding process, but a large proportion of Amtrak riders are NOT Penn aficiandos.)

Also that document you cite is Cuomo’s January announcement; the plans for renovations within Penn itself seem to have been scaled back since then. (For instance, the latest documents do not discuss removing the MSG theater.) Retail in transit hubs is great, but transit needs to take precedence. The governor’s plan offers hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and major tax incentives to the developers to create highly profitable new retail space, and train riders get a big new waiting room in a less convenient location than the old one.

I’m not denying the riders get SOMETHING, but this project appears to be driven by retail profits first and passenger service second.

Webster October 7, 2016 - 2:04 pm

I hear you, but…I fundamentally disagree.

The current announcement is the Farley component, also announced as part of the larger “Empire Station” scheme.
(See sections Penn Station Redevelopment and Farley Post Office Redevelopment: https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/6th-proposal-governor-cuomos-2016-agenda-transform-penn-station-and-farley-post-office-building)

This is what I find annoying, in a lot of the ink spilled over Farley-Moynihan. I don’t know why we’re pretending that the January (of this year) announcement is irrelevant regarding the State and partner’s current designs on station improvements; especially, given that one aspect of the announced plan is currently moving forward…in order to make way for the second.

Furthermore, passengers will still need to use the existing facility to access platforms, which is why they are moving as much as they can to allow the existing facility to be reconfigured. I just…feel this is pretty obvious.

I also disagree with the sentiment that taxpayers are being asked to foot the bill for private development when the private partners involved are ponying up a large share of the funding (https://twitter.com/2AvSagas/status/780807495434600449) for the rights to the retail component. To me, personally, this argument sounds like anxiety about WTC Path HUB, which has only ever been 50% relevant, in my book.

Retail is an asset that is – in the best of times – revenue positive and provides relevant/important passenger services, as well. Continuing to imply that adding retail is relegating “transportation” to a lower-tier is moving the goal posts, to me: we know the most significant capacity improvements won’t come until Gateway (that is, increased/improved Trans-Hudson capacity) and MSG moves (and/or the institutional barriers preventing service rationalization – i.e. through running – to happen). This, however, is not an argument that no significant reconfiguration should take place, above ground if it doesn’t mean fixing capacity – ask the average user of transit, and they’ll give you a very funny look if you suggest otherwise.

In any case, it is quite clear they want to clear out space in the existing facility to allow major reconfigurations: Cuomo has reiterated this, [spokespersons for] Amtrak have reiterated this, the round of announcements made regarding Penn of late have reiterated this.

It irks me that we’re pretending Farley-Moynihan is the end game; it isn’t. It is fine to not like Farley, but I don’t like the misrepresentation of what their end-game is…It is for this reason that I believe people appear to be fundamentally confused about just what it is the State and other partners are trying to do.

AG October 8, 2016 - 1:35 pm

“I’m not denying the riders get SOMETHING, but this project appears to be driven by retail profits first and passenger service second.”

Well that’s what happens when you get $600 million from private developers to help pay for it. You get office and retail. Where would that be found in the public purse??

It’s just like the argument of MSG. People don’t seem to realize how prohibitively expense that would be to first take them to court and then have to compensate them… There are those claiming Penn Station south (which is Amtrak’s plan for expansion) is now too expensive because the cost of buying that clock went from $400 million to $1.2 billion. Well guess what? That’s half of what it would cost to get MSG to move. We all like to dream… But budget constraints are real. Which is also why the “Empire Station Complex” obviously had to be scaled back. They couldn’t “make the dollars – make cents/sense”.
As to passengers being second.. It doesn’t appear all of LIRR is moving into Farley. The existing concourse for LIRR is to be redeveloped as well. To me it would seem they would have access to both. It’s only Amtrak that is totally relocating across the street.

AG October 8, 2016 - 1:37 pm

forgot to add this link to last comment


Jonathan October 6, 2016 - 5:45 pm

I suspect that the presence of LIRR at Farley is largely because it’s a NY State railroad that would justify NY State spending money on the project. The renderings clearly suggest that LIRR will continue to be accessed from its existing concourses and without dramatically reconfiguring the station’s platforms, which seems well beyond the scope of this project, the LIRR’s presence at Farley will likely be limited to an improved West End concourse.

AG October 7, 2016 - 6:00 am

Seems pretty accurate. I hear some people say “oh this is cosmetic”… Well yeah… That’s the only thing the state can do. East Side Access will reconfigure track usage as LIRR shifts trains to GC and Metro North adds trains to reach Penn.
Trans Hudson capacity can’t happen without Gateway. The state doesn’t control Gateway (or Penn really). Amtrak is the main driver for that. This was always going to be about adding space and making the space more pleasing. This was never going to be about capacity. I’m not sure why transit watchers never understood that.

wiseinfrastructure October 7, 2016 - 12:51 am

rather than spending fortunes to enhance the experience of waiting for trains and buses limited by cross hudson capacity – build the world’s largest combined bus and train station in NJ and link it to most areas of Manhattan via several monorails running at 2 minute headways on each of many seperate loops.

-train stations require a lot of realestate
-bus stations require a lot of realestate
-bus stations and train stations are the last stop for just a fraction of the those passing through them
-eastside access is critical for NJ users
-connectivity of buses and train is important
-building in manhattan is expensive
-dumping a lot of people in one location creates problems
-the pa bus terminal is shot
-penn station can not service those neededing to come into manhattan

the solution:
1) a massive multilevel connected bus and train station in NJ (Secaucus on steriods)
2) a signature multitrack (4-6 track pairs) monorail/walking bridge over the hudson directly connecting bus/train plaforms to 4-6 midtown and downtown monorail loops of 3-5 stops each

*12-30 stations spread out over the east side, west side and downtown would be served with users being within a 2-4 blocks o their final destinations
*monorails have small enough visual and noice impacts that elevated construction could be tolerated
*all fare collection (entering and leaving) would be on the NJ terminal side of the monorail lines (and included in most NJT tickets) to minimize manhattan station foot prints
*there would be an overal time saving in the commute of most users
*NJT could run lines at full capacity into the new station as opposed to having the entire system constrained by the just 2 tracks accross the Hudson.

Tower18 October 7, 2016 - 5:37 pm

LOL @ monorails…

Where in NJ do you propose this be located? If it’s in the meadowlands somewhere, what is the idea of a “walking bridge” doing in your plan? It’s about 5-6 miles from Secaucus to the far west side of Manhattan, much less the center.

Your plan answers a real estate question, perhaps, but it raises about 1000 unanswerable questions in its place, and makes commutes worse for almost everyone.

AMH October 10, 2016 - 11:49 am

That sounds awful. Rather than adding mandatory transfers to crowded and slow monorails (which is already the worst part of using EWR) we should be reducing transfers by adding regional stations.

Example: http://archnews.wpengine.com/w.....15;429.jpg

Michael Finfer October 7, 2016 - 8:16 am

I am going to comment on this as a user of public transportation based upon my travel patterns.

It is usually more convenient for me to be near or at the east end of the train in both directions. The new station in Farley will be a place that I will go to once just so I can say that I have seen it, but, otherwise, I will probably never go over there.

Eric F October 7, 2016 - 9:02 am

Bingo. Beautiful idea, wrong place. Not a bad entry hall for Amtrak though.

Nathanael October 8, 2016 - 11:40 am

Farley will work really well for Amtrak.

As for the LIRR… looks like they’re basically just adding a second ticket desk and some space for people to sit. That’s good.

spokes October 7, 2016 - 11:25 am

While the Farley location is not ideal, it finally opens up the potential to fully redevelop Penn Station in the future. It does not seem that its intention is to replace Penn Station, but it will add much needed passenger storage and circulation that the current Penn Station lacks. If this (somehow) is completed by 2020

A new Penn Station can not happen without relocation of Madison Square Garden. With a lease that stretches until 2023, it does not seem possible that the Garden could be moved before that year. If Farley is (somehow) completed by 2020; the Garden’s lease expired in 2023, and a finished Farley which could easily serve as a full temporary headhouse while Penn is under construction – a path for a new Penn Station is made much more feasible.

Chris October 7, 2016 - 1:29 pm

Everyone above is making good points. However, MSG is on a 10 (?) year property lease. The renewal was kept short, so that NYC had the option to build a new NYP if it really wanted and had the political will to do so.

With the above being noted, MSG should be relocated to the Farley annex, using appropriate people movers (as used in airline terminals) to get people to/from the new NYP The owners of the new MSG could be given a long term lease with ONE right of guaranteed lease renewal. This way, they could amortize their investments in a new structure. (To me, giving up the land used by the Farley annex for 100 years is a cheap price to pay to reclaim land used by the current MSG.)

Assuming MSG is relocated, then a new NYP can be built with the plans that use the skeleton of the old MSG as starting point. Unfortunately, retail malls in transportation hubs are a fad now, so the politicians will want to justify that for added revenue. Let them. I expect to see those outlets restructured for other use over time, and will be a long term non-issue for a new NYP.

Unfortunately, the real problem still remains – extra capacity at NYP. First, we need the Gateway tunnels. This is an absolute requirement. But then, we need to rethink how all the railroads going into NYP operate. Soon, once GCT-ESA is in operation, we’ll have added capacity at NYP for Metro North trains to come into the station. But is there a major problem caused by the different electrification standards of all the railroads? The New Haven lines (as I understand it) use different voltages for their catenary system than the former Pennsylvania lines. LIRR (and NJT) use “shoe over” third rail, while Metro North uses “shoe under” third rail. Is there a good way to make all this work together at one location?

I’m of the mind that extra capacity at NYP can only be accomplished by adding tracks South of the existing station. (North is not viable due to the Lincoln Tunnel.) How much real estate will be needed, and how much will it cost? Until we have the political will to build new trackage and tunnels, might it be wise to be buying the real estate now, and keep the businesses already there in business until the political will is there to do what needs to be done? The government would be able to buy land at market value, and make a small profit with leases while waiting for the NYP expansion project to be underway.

Another approach for added capacity would be similar to what is being done at GCT-ESA, having a mezzanine deep under the existing GCT. New gateway tunnels could connect to a new deep underground mezzanine, and could be extended to LIRR’s new concourse at GCT. Thru running could become a reality for NJT and the LIRR if desired. But the biggest gain would be for NJT to have East Side Access as well.

Of course, I expect my ideas to go to the bit bucket for now…..

Jon Y October 7, 2016 - 4:08 pm

Re: through running NYP to GCT via ESA, if I recall correctly, the TBMs were encased in concrete so essentially blocking the path for further digging.

Adirondacker12800 October 8, 2016 - 4:05 am

Not that anyone would want to, dig them out.

Nathanael October 8, 2016 - 11:40 am

You can dismantle them and remove them. Pain but it’s possible.

AG October 7, 2016 - 7:31 pm

People keep misunderstanding. MSG does not have a lease… They own the land. They have a special operating permit. None of the stakeholders are calling for MSG to move anymore. Amtrak is looking to build Penn South to compliment Gateway. That’s there plan. They control it – not the politicians. I’m not sure why people keep spending energy conceptualizing the Garden moving. The window was open last decade. It’s closed now.

Nathanael October 8, 2016 - 11:41 am

They don’t own the land, they own the “air rights”.

The land is actually owned outright by Amtrak, transferred from the bankruptcy estate of Penn Central by the 4R act.

AG October 8, 2016 - 1:58 pm

Well in the most technical sense. “Air rights” are “land”. Amtrak owns what is below the portion of “air rights” that MSG owns. Once air rights are sold they are sold. But it again points out the complexity. Amtrak owns the station – not the city. Amtrak doesn’t give MSG a lease because MSG owns the physical space above Penn Station. MSG has no lease. It has a special operating permit – which is standard for major sports facilities. The only difference is the city only wanted to extend MSG’s for 10 years. It can’t actually force them to move. It can let the permit expire – but in court – MSG would most likely still be allowed to operate considering they can afford very good lawyers. Amtrak is no long interested in moving MSG – so the MSA and RPA are wasting their energy.

Nathanael October 9, 2016 - 11:48 am

Yeah, it’s pretty complicated, isn’t it.

AMH October 10, 2016 - 12:04 pm

We definitely need to rethink operations at Penn. Through-running can add capacity without additional tracks. I think that demolishing property for even more dead-end tracks would be an incredible waste. Gateway is an opportunity to untangle operations and make better use of existing tracks and platforms (see this video).

john October 7, 2016 - 3:47 pm

“Moynihan Train Hall will… (house) LIRR ticketing and waiting areas”
“the MTA will redesign the LIRR’s 33rd St. concourse”

sounds like a terrible walk

pete October 7, 2016 - 6:37 pm

West End Concourse expansion AKA Moynihan Phase 1 is an ill planned fiefdom project anyway, just like every construction project inside Penn Station since the end of Pennsylvania Railroad. Moynihan Phase 1 doesn’t connect to NJT tracks 1-4.

Nathanael October 8, 2016 - 11:43 am

It does, if designed correctly, connect to the “diagonal platform” which is currently unused. This could be used for expansion of Amtrak’s Empire Service or Metro-North from the Hudson Line.

Emily Wilde August 16, 2023 - 3:24 pm

As a devoted ocean enthusiast, I can’t help but rave about the incredible Abstract Coastal Art print services offered by Art of the Sea. I recently acquired a breathtaking masterpiece from their collection, which is conveniently available at https://www.artofthesea.ca. Let me tell you, their prints are an absolute treasure trove for anyone seeking to infuse their living space with the mesmerizing beauty of the ocean.


Leave a Comment