The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will hold public meetings beginning next week to discuss a plan to link Metro-North Railroad to Penn Station, potentially bringing up to 28,000 more commuters per weekday into the Long Island Rail Road's Manhattan home.
MTA officials said the meetings will update residents on the agency's ongoing environmental study for its Penn Station Access plan.
The plan, first pitched more than a dozen years ago, aims to provide more public transportation options to several Bronx communities by using existing Amtrak lines to link them to Penn Station.
Several Long Island business leaders and eight state senators from Nassau and Suffolk counties have opposed the plan, saying it would further overburden the busiest railroad station in the country, and could force the LIRR to decrease service to make room for its sister railroad.
The LIRR already shares Penn Station's 21 tracks with Amtrak and New Jersey Transit. Desmond Ryan, executive director for the Association for a Better Long Island, said allowing Metro-North into Penn Station would not only negatively impact riders, but also economic development in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
"We shouldn't be giving up space," Ryan said. "We should be taking more space."
MTA chairman Joseph Lhota called the planned meetings a "small step" in a "complicated process." He agreed that Penn Station currently lacks room for Metro-North, but he hopes to make the plan work by 2019.