Look out commuters, summer track work at Penn Station is on its way.
Amtrak plans to take as many as three tracks out of service for weeks at a time for infrastructure repair at the nation’s busiest rail station starting in July.
As news of the work and how commuters can get around it comes out in pieces, here is a breakdown of what we know for the short and long term.
WHAT IS CONFIRMED:
- The work will be going on around the clock from July 10 — Sept. 1, 2017.
- LIRR rush-hour service will be reduced by as much as 20 percent, including normal Penn trains that will be canceled, diverted to different stations, or terminated early at Jamaica, the MTA said.
- Three trains between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. will be canceled.
- Three trains and 36 rail cars will be added to service.
- Two new ferry routes from Long Island to Manhattan will be created. They will be able to accommodate 2,300 riders.
- Two hundred coach buses will also be added to service.
- The LIRR will also provide eight park and ride locations and parking spots for 2,900 vehicles.
- The plan for LIRR riders did not include fare reductions.
- Diverted trains may go to Hunterspoint Avenue in Queens or Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn.
- MTA officials also plan to bolster subway service at some locations, where LIRR riders will be able to transfer for free.
- None of the weekday summer work includes tracks that the LIRR uses. Still, LIRR service would be affected because the railroad would be required to share with Amtrak and NJ Transit tracks it usually has to itself.
- NJ Transit is also reducing service into and out of Penn. It is cutting fares by as much as 64 percent for some affected commuters.
- The weekday work this summer will be concentrated at a particularly complex portion of tracks at the 117-year-old station’s western end.
- A separate effort to replace some track infrastructure on Penn’s east end, where the LIRR operates, will be carried out over weekends through next year.
- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced he is ordering the acceleration of construction work at MTA crossings "to ease commutes and provide New Yorkers with peace of mind."
- The governor's order also means that all major commuting crossings will be cashless and all lanes will be open during the daytime.
WHAT ELSE IS BEING DISCUSSED:
- Cuomo has said the outages will cause buses, subways and roads to be “stretched” to their limits and will turn the Long Island Expressway into “a parking lot” as commuters look for alternatives.
- The full MTA plan for LIRR riders is expected to detail alternate transportation methods including ferries, buses to and from designated parking areas throughout Long Island, and changes to the Long Island Expressway's HOV lane guidelines.
- The New York State Senate has passed a bill authorizing the MTA to withhold payments from Amtrak and use the funds to reduce LIRR fares until conditions improve at Penn. The MTA has not indicated that they plan to do that.
- Cuomo also wrote to President Donald Trump to ask for federal financial help in facilitating transportation alternatives and construction during the outages.
- Amtrak has said completing its planned summer work will free up resources to allow them to focus on other important projects, including improvements to the tunnels and portions of Penn used by the LIRR.
WHAT COULD HAPPEN EVENTUALLY:
- Cuomo’s task force will also explore management options for Penn, including possibly ousting Amtrak from control of Penn and turning it over fully to a private operator or to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Cuomo has also suggested New York State take it over.
- Cuomo has also asked the White House to help find a long-term solution to what he called an emergency situation at the transit hub.
- But it’s unclear whether the federal government will intervene in Penn. Trump’s early budget proposals cut funding to Penn Station operator Amtrak, which relies heavily on federal subsidies.
- Early federal budget proposals would also cut a grant program key to launch a $23 billion package of improvements to the Northeast rail corridor, including the construction of a new tunnel across the Hudson River.
- Amtrak has proposed other improvements in Penn, including hiring an outside contractor to manage the station’s concourse level, with oversight by Amtrak, LIRR and NJ Transit.