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Metro-North access to Penn Station: Recently-nominated MTA head voices support for project

Thomas F. Prendergast speaks during an Assembly public

Thomas F. Prendergast speaks during an Assembly public hearing in Manhattan on the MTA's finances and operations. (Jan. 11, 2013) Photo Credit: Rory Glaeseman

The recently nominated head of the MTA said Friday he's behind Metro-North's plans to bring its trains down Manhattan's West Side and into Penn Station for the first time in the commuter rail's 30-year history.

Thomas Prendergast, the interim executive director of the MTA, told reporters at a meeting of the Regional Plan Association, he would support a proposal that would give Hudson Valley commuters access to Penn Station by 2019.

"I support the plan to bring Metro-North into Penn Station in a way that Penn Station can handle," Prendergast said.

The MTA is in the midst of a study to determine the station needs of the four railroads -- Metro-North, NJ Transit, Amtrak and the Long Island Rail Road -- that would have to share Penn Station tracks and platforms.

According to MTA planning documents, at least 10 Metro-North trains would come into Penn Station during the morning rush.

Prendergast's soon-to-be predecessor, acting MTA chairman Fernando Ferrer, has been an outspoken advocate of the Penn Station project in large part because it will give Bronx commuters easy access to midtown Manhattan.

Four stations would be constructed in the Bronx -- at Hunts Point, Parkchester, Morris Park and Co-op City -- as early as 2015, the MTA said.

Under the MTA plans, New Rochelle, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Rye, Port Chester and Harrison on the New Haven Line would gain access to Penn Station, while passengers who get on the line south of New Rochelle would have to head to Grand Central Terminal.

Metro-North is hoping to time their trains' arrival at Penn Station to the fall 2019 completion of the East Side Access Project, which would allow Long Island Rail Road trains into Grand Central for the first time.

Prendergast, who was nominated by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo two weeks ago, previously served as the head of the New York City Transit system. His appointment as chairman and CEO of the MTA awaits the approval of the state Senate.

He also told reporters Friday the MTA needs to be mindful that it is a regional agency that serves the people of New York City as well as its suburbs in Long Island and the Hudson Valley.

"We need to continue to remind ourselves we are a regional agency and we need to make sure we're doing everything across the region to provide benefits to the people," he said.

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