Pennsylvania Station (New York City)
Pennsylvania Station, also known as New York Penn Station or simply Penn Station, is the main intercity railroad station in New York City and the busiest transportation facility of any kind in the Western Hemisphere, serving more than 600,000 passengers per weekday as of 2019[update].[a] It is located in Midtown Manhattan, beneath Madison Square Garden in the block bounded by Seventh and Eighth Avenues and 31st and 33rd Streets, and in the James A. Farley Building, with additional exits to nearby streets. It is close to Herald Square, the Empire State Building, Koreatown, and Macy's Herald Square.
Penn Station has 21 tracks fed by seven tunnels (the two North River Tunnels, the four East River Tunnels, and the single Empire Connection tunnel). It is at the center of the Northeast Corridor, a passenger rail line that connects New York City with Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and intermediate points. Intercity trains are operated by Amtrak, which owns the station, while commuter rail services are operated by the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and NJ Transit (NJT). Connections are available within the complex to the New York City Subway, and buses.
Penn Station is named for the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), its builder and original owner, and shares its name with several stations in other cities. The current facility is the remodeled underground remnant of the original Pennsylvania Station, a more ornate station building designed by McKim, Mead, and White and considered a masterpiece of the Beaux-Arts style. Completed in 1910, it enabled direct rail access to New York City from the south for the first time. Its head house was torn down in 1963, galvanizing the modern historic preservation movement. The rest of the station was rebuilt in the following six years, while retaining most of the rail infrastructure from the original station.
A new direct entrance from 33rd Street to the LIRR concourse opened in December 2020, and Moynihan Train Hall, an expansion of Penn Station into a mixed-use redevelopment of the adjacent Farley Post Office building, opened in January 2021. Future plans for Penn Station include further expansion of the LIRR concourse, the construction of additional railway platforms in a new southern annex to accommodate two proposed Gateway Program tunnels across the Hudson River, and renovation of the core Penn Station under Madison Square Garden.
Planning and construction
Until the early 20th century, the PRR's rail network terminated on the western side of the Hudson River (once known locally as the North River) at Exchange Place in Jersey City, New Jersey. Manhattan-bound passengers boarded ferries to cross the Hudson River for the final stretch of their journey.
The rival New York Central Railroad's line ran down Manhattan from the north under Park Avenue and terminated at Grand Central Depot (later Grand Central Station, now Terminal) at 42nd Street. Many proposals for a cross-Hudson connection were advanced in the late 19th century, but financial panics in the 1870s and 1890s scared off potential investors. In any event, none of the proposals advanced during this time were considered feasible.
An early proposal for a bridge was considered but rejected. The alternative was to tunnel under the river, but this was infeasible for steam locomotive use. The development of the electric locomotive at the turn of the 20th century made a tunnel feasible. In 1901, PRR president Alexander Cassatt announced the railroad's plan to enter New York City by tunneling under the Hudson and building a grand station on the West Side of Manhattan south of 34th Street. The station would sit in Manhattan's Tenderloin district, a historical red-light district known for its corruption and prostitution.
Beginning in June 1903, the two single-track North River Tunnels were bored from the west under the Hudson River. A second set of four single-track tunnels, the East River Tunnels, were bored from the east under the East River, linking the new station to Queens, the PRR-owned Long Island Rail Road, and Sunnyside Yard in Queens, where trains would be maintained and assembled. Construction was completed on the Hudson River tunnels on October 9, 1906, and on the East River tunnels on March 18, 1908.
A small portion of Penn Station opened on September 8, 1910, in conjunction with the opening of the East River Tunnels, and LIRR riders gained direct railroad service to Manhattan. On November 27, 1910, Penn Station was fully opened to the public. With the station's full opening, the PRR became the only railroad to enter New York City from the south.
During half a century of operation by the Pennsylvania Railroad (1910–1963), scores of intercity passenger trains arrived and departed daily to Chicago and St. Louis on “Pennsy” rails and beyond on connecting railroads to Miami and the west. Along with Long Island Rail Road trains, Penn Station saw trains of the New Haven and the Lehigh Valley railroads. A side effect of the tunneling project was to open the city up to the suburbs, and within 10 years of opening, two-thirds of the daily passengers coming through Penn Station were commuters. The station put the Pennsylvania Railroad at comparative advantage to its competitors offering direct service from Manhattan to the west and south. Other railroads began their routes at terminals in Weehawken, Hoboken, Pavonia and Communipaw which required passengers from New York City to take the interstate Hudson Tubes (now PATH) or ferries across the Hudson River before boarding their trains. By 1945, at its peak, more than 100 million passengers a year traveled through Penn Station.
By the late 1950s, intercity rail passenger volumes had declined dramatically with the coming of the Jet Age and the Interstate Highway System. The station's exterior had become somewhat grimy, and due to its vast scale, the station was expensive to maintain. A renovation covered some of the grand columns with plastic and blocked off the spacious central hallway with a new ticket office. The Pennsylvania Railroad optioned the air rights, which called for the demolition of the head house and train shed, to be replaced by an office complex and a new sports complex, while the tracks of the station would remain untouched. Plans for the new Penn Plaza and Madison Square Garden were announced in 1962. In exchange for the air rights to Penn Station, the PRR would receive a smaller underground station at no cost and a 25 percent stake in the new Madison Square Garden Complex. Modern architects rushed to save the ornate building, but to no avail; demolition of the above-ground head house began in October 1963. A giant steel deck was placed over the tracks and platforms to allow rail service to continue during construction; photographs of the day showed passengers waiting for trains even as the head house was demolished around them. This was possible because most of the rail infrastructure (including the waiting room, concourses, and boarding platforms) was below street level.
The demolition of the Penn Station head house was controversial and caused outrage internationally. "One entered the city like a god. One scuttles in now like a rat,” the architectural historian Vincent Scully famously wrote of the original station. The controversy over the demolition of such a well-known landmark, and its deplored replacement, is often cited as a catalyst for the architectural preservation movement in the United States. New laws were passed to restrict such demolition. Within the decade, Grand Central Terminal was protected under the city's new landmarks preservation act, a protection upheld by the courts in 1978 after a challenge by Grand Central's owner, Penn Central.
Under Madison Square Garden
Post-1968, the core Penn Station has been underground, sitting below Madison Square Garden, 33rd Street, and Two Penn Plaza. The core has three levels: concourses on the upper two levels and train platforms on the lowest. The two levels of concourses, while renovated and expanded during the construction of Madison Square Garden, are original to the 1910 station, as are the tracks and platforms.
Over the following decades, renovation attempted to add service and some concourse space. The West End Concourse under Eighth Avenue opened in 1986. In 1987, a rail connection to the West Side Rail Yard opened, and in 1991, the opening of the Empire Connection allowed Amtrak to consolidate all of its New York City trains at Penn Station, instead of maintaining a second New York station for Empire Corridor trains terminating at nearby Grand Central Terminal. In 1994, the station was renovated to add the 34th Street LIRR entrance and central corridor, along with artwork and improved waiting and concession areas. In 2002, the NJ Transit concourse was created in space previously occupied by retail and Amtrak office space, and a new entrance to this concourse was added at 31st Street in 2009.
After the September 11 attacks, security was increased and passenger flow curtailed. In 2002, $100 million of work added security features such as lighting, cameras, and barricades. The taxiway under Madison Square Garden, which ran from 31st Street to 33rd Street at mid-block, was permanently closed off with concrete Jersey barriers. Escalators providing direct access to the lobby of Madison Square Garden were closed and later removed. The underground Gimbels Passageway connecting pedestrians to 34th Street–Herald Square has been sealed off since 1986, after decades of safety concerns and sexual assaults.
Despite the modest renovations, the underground Penn Station continued to be criticized as "reviled," "dysfunctional," and a low-ceilinged "catacomb" lacking charm, especially when compared to the much larger and more ornate Grand Central Terminal. The New York Times, in a November 2007 editorial supporting development of an enlarged terminal, said that "Amtrak's beleaguered customers...scurry through underground rooms bereft of light or character," and Times transit reporter Michael M. Grynbaum called Penn Station "the ugly stepchild of the city’s two great rail terminals." After its nadir in the 1960s, ridership exploded in subsequent decades, a situation never contemplated by the structure's designers. By the 2010s, the station operated at almost three times its intended capacity; 450,000 intercity and commuter riders and 330,000 subway riders used the station daily in 2019.
In the early 1990s, U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan proposed building a new station in the James A. Farley Building, the city's former main post office across the street. Moynihan had shined shoes in the original station as a boy. Many redevelopment or expansion concepts were unveiled over the 1990s and 2000s, but none reached fruition until funding from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act enabled the expansion of the West End Concourse of the LIRR under the Farley Building in 2016. Building on it, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2016 announced plans for renovation of Penn Station and mixed-use redevelopment of the Farley Building, including development of a new train hall, which he called the Empire Station Complex.
The new expansion, Moynihan Train Hall, opened in January 2021, named for the man who had conceived it. The $1.6 billion, 255,000-square-foot (23,700 m2) renovation retained the original, landmarked Beaux Arts Farley Building, added a central atrium with a glass roof, and was finished on time and within budget after three years of construction. The train hall provides new dedicated access for Amtrak passengers, and while LIRR trains are accessible, most LIRR riders are expected to use the existing LIRR concourse in the core station, and all NJ Transit operations remain in the old structure. A new 33rd Street entrance to the LIRR concourse opened at the same time.
The station is served by 1,300 arrivals and departures per day, twice the number during the 1970s. There are more than 600,000 commuter rail and Amtrak passengers who use the station on an average weekday, or up to 1,000 every ninety seconds.:498, 891 It is the busiest passenger transportation facility in the United States and in North America.:890–891
Amtrak owns the station and uses it for the following services:
- Acela to Boston (northern terminus) and Washington D.C. (southern terminus)
- Adirondack to Montreal
- Cardinal to Chicago
- Carolinian to Charlotte
- Crescent to New Orleans
- Empire Service to Albany and Niagara Falls, NY
- Ethan Allen Express to Rutland
- Keystone Service to Harrisburg
- Lake Shore Limited to Chicago
- Maple Leaf to Toronto
- Pennsylvanian to Pittsburgh
- Northeast Regional to Boston or Springfield (northern termini) and Roanoke, Newport News, or Norfolk (southern termini)
- Palmetto to Savannah
- Silver Meteor to Miami
- Silver Star to Miami
- Vermonter to Washington D.C. (southern terminus) and St. Albans (northern terminus)
All except the Acela Express, Northeast Regional and Vermonter originate and terminate at Penn Station.
Despite its status as Amtrak's busiest station, Amtrak's Superliner railcars cannot use Penn Station due to incompatible platform heights and inadequate clearances in the North River and East River Tunnels.
Amtrak normally uses tracks 5–12 alongside New Jersey Transit and shares tracks 13–16 with the LIRR and NJ Transit.
Long Island Rail Road
The following Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) services originate and terminate at Penn Station:
- Babylon Branch to Babylon
- Belmont Park Branch seasonal service to Belmont Park
- Far Rockaway Branch to Far Rockaway, Queens in New York City
- Hempstead Branch to Hempstead
- Long Beach Branch to Long Beach
- Montauk Branch to Babylon and Montauk
- Oyster Bay Branch to Oyster Bay
- Port Jefferson Branch to Huntington and Port Jefferson
- Port Washington Branch to Port Washington
- Ronkonkoma Branch to Ronkonkoma with connecting service to Greenport
- West Hempstead Branch to Hempstead
Normally, the LIRR uses tracks 17 to 21 exclusively and shares tracks 13 to 16 with Amtrak and NJT. The LIRR uses tracks 11 and 12 on rare occasions.
The following NJ Transit Rail Operations (NJT) branches originate and terminate at Penn Station:
- Montclair-Boonton Line to Montclair State University station, with connecting service west to Hackettstown.
- Morris and Essex Lines, consisting of the Morristown Line to Dover via Morristown and the Gladstone Branch to Gladstone.
- Northeast Corridor Line to Trenton
- North Jersey Coast Line to Long Branch, with connecting service to Bay Head
- Raritan Valley Line to Raritan and High Bridge
NJT normally uses tracks 1 to 4 exclusively, as these four tracks end at bumper blocks to their east. NJT shares tracks 5 through 12 with Amtrak, and occasionally uses tracks 13 to 16, which are shared with Amtrak and the LIRR.
New York City Subway
Connections are available to the following New York City Subway stations:
- From Penn Station:
- From Herald Square, one block east at Sixth Avenue:
Connections are also available to the PATH system at 33rd Street station, under Sixth Avenue on Herald Square. The JSQ-33 and HOB-33 services terminate at 33rd Street on weekdays, and are combined into the JSQ-33 (via HOB) service on late nights, weekends and holidays.
Bus and coach
NYC Airporter provides bus transportation to and from John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport, and is authorized by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the New York City Department of Transportation.
New York City Bus
- M7 (Lenox, Columbus, Amsterdam, Sixth and Seventh Avenues): southbound to Greenwich Village, via Seventh Avenue; or northbound to Harlem via Sixth, Amsterdam, and Lenox Avenues
- M20 (Seventh and Eighth Avenues/Varick and Hudson Streets): northbound to Lincoln Center via Eighth Avenue; or southbound to South Ferry via Seventh Avenue
- M34 Select Bus Service (34th Street Crosstown): westbound to Javits Center; or eastbound to FDR Drive
- M34A Select Bus Service (34th Street Crosstown): westbound to Port Authority Bus Terminal; or eastbound to Waterside Plaza and Kips Bay
- Q32 (Fifth and Madison Avenues): northbound only, to Jackson Heights, Queens
Intercity bus service to and from Penn Station is provided by BoltBus, Vamoose Bus, Tripper Bus, and Go Buses. BoltBus operates from two stops at Penn Station. Penn Station Bus Stop #1 has service to Baltimore; Greenbelt, Maryland; and two stops in Washington, D.C. Penn Station Bus Stop #2 has service to Boston; Cherry Hill, New Jersey; and Philadelphia. Vamoose Bus runs buses from a stop near Penn Station to Bethesda, Maryland; Arlington, Virginia; and Lorton, Virginia. Tripper Bus runs buses from a stop near Penn Station to Bethesda, Maryland and Arlington, Virginia. Go Buses runs buses from a stop near Penn Station to Newton, Massachusetts and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Proposed Metro-North service
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to bring Metro-North Railroad commuter trains to Penn Station as part of its Penn Station Access project. The East Side Access project, expected to open in 2022, will free up track and platform space at Penn Station by redirecting some LIRR trains from Penn Station to Grand Central Terminal. This new capacity, as well as track connections resulting from the East Side Access project, would allow Metro-North trains on the New Haven Line to run to Penn Station via Amtrak's Hell Gate Bridge. Four new local Metro-North stations in the Bronx are planned as part of this project, at Co-op City, Morris Park, Parkchester, and Hunts Point. The MTA also proposes a second connection from the Metro-North's Hudson Line to Penn Station using Amtrak's West Side Line in Manhattan. The Penn Station Access project would provide direct rides from Connecticut, Westchester County, the Lower Hudson Valley, and the Bronx to West Midtown; ease reverse-commuting from Manhattan and the Bronx to Westchester County, the Lower Hudson Valley, and Connecticut; and provide transportation service to areas of the Bronx without direct subway service.
Penn Station does not have a unified design or floor plan but rather is divided into separate Amtrak, LIRR and NJ Transit concourses with each concourse maintained and styled differently by its respective operator. The Amtrak and NJ Transit concourses are located on the first level below the street level while the Long Island Rail Road concourse is two levels below street level.
The main concourse, which was principally used by Amtrak until the opening of the Moynihan Train Hall, is at the west end of the station directly beneath Madison Square Garden. It was created out of the original station's waiting rooms and main concourse, though few remnants of the original still exist in the space. It was renovated in the early 2000s in anticipation of Acela service and includes an enclosed waiting area for ticketed passengers with seats, outlets and WiFi.
The LIRR's connecting concourse runs below West 33rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, as it has since the original station opened in 1910. Significant renovations were made to the LIRR areas over a three-year period ending in 1994, including the opening of the Central Corridor passageway and the addition of a new entry pavilion on 34th Street. The West End Concourse, west of Eighth Avenue, opened in 1986, and was widened and lengthened to cover tracks 5 through 21 in 2017.
The NJ Transit concourse near Seventh Avenue opened in 2002 out of existing retail and Amtrak office space. A new street-level entrance to this concourse at the corner of 31st Street and Seventh Avenue opened in September 2009. Previously, NJ Transit used space in the Amtrak concourse.
The station is so complex that in December 2017, Amtrak and Zyter released a mobile app called FindYourWay to help commuters navigate around Penn Station, though Zyter also plans to roll out the app at other large Amtrak stations. As further evidence of its complexity, the station's three providers use different official addresses for the station.
- Amtrak: 351 West 31st Street
- LIRR: 34th Street at 7th and 8th Avenues
- NJ Transit: 390 7th Avenue
|Above ground||Madison Square Garden/Two Penn Plaza|
|UC||Amtrak Concourse||Amtrak tickets, transfer to 34th Street–Penn Station (IND Eighth Avenue Line) station; exit to 33rd Street, connection to Exit and Connecting concourses|
|NJT Concourse||NJT tickets, exit to 31st Street, connect to LIRR and Hilton concourses|
|LC||West End Concourse||Amtrak/LIRR tickets, transfer to 34th Street–Penn Station (IND Eighth Avenue Line) station; exit to 33rd Street, connection to Exit and Connecting concourses|
|Exit Concourse||Exit to 31st Street, connection to Hilton, West End, and Connecting concourses|
|Hilton Corridor||Exit to Seventh Avenue, connection to Exit, LIRR, Central, and NJT concourses|
|Central Concourse||Tickets, connection to Connecting and Hilton concourses|
|Connecting Concourse||Transfer to 34th Street–Penn Station (IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line) station, connection to West End, LIRR, Central, and Exit concourses, to One Penn Plaza and 34th Street at north end|
|LIRR Concourse||LIRR tickets, connection to NJT and Hilton concourses|
|Track 21||LIRR toward Long Island →|
|Island platform (Platform 11)|
|Track 20||LIRR toward Long Island →|
|Track 19||LIRR toward Long Island →|
|Island platform (Platform 10)|
|Track 18||LIRR toward Long Island →|
|Island platform (Platform 9); Track 17 only|
|Track 17||LIRR toward Long Island →|
|Track 16||← Amtrak/NJ Transit/LIRR →|
|Island platform (Platform 8)|
|Track 15||← Amtrak/NJ Transit/LIRR →|
|Track 14||← Amtrak/NJ Transit/LIRR →|
|Island platform (Platform 7)|
|Track 13||← Amtrak/NJ Transit/LIRR →|
|Track 12||← Amtrak/NJ Transit/LIRR →|
|Island platform (Platform 6)|
|Track 11||← Amtrak/NJ Transit →|
|Track 10||← Amtrak/NJ Transit →|
|Island platform (Platform 5)|
|Track 9||← Amtrak/NJ Transit →|
|Track 8||← Amtrak/NJ Transit →|
|Island platform (Platform 4)|
|Track 7||← Amtrak/NJ Transit →|
|Track 6||← Amtrak/NJ Transit →|
|Island platform (Platform 3)|
|Track 5||← Amtrak/NJ Transit|
|Track 4||← NJ Transit toward New Jersey|
|Island platform (Platform 2)|
|Track 3||← NJ Transit toward New Jersey|
|Track 2||← NJ Transit toward New Jersey|
|Island platform (Platform 1)|
|Track 1||← NJ Transit toward New Jersey|
Tracks and surrounding infrastructure
Penn Station track map
In normal operations, Amtrak and NJ Transit share tracks 5–12, while the LIRR has the exclusive use of tracks 17–21 on the north side of the station. All three railroads share tracks 13–16. Tracks 1–4 end at bumper blocks at the eastern end of the platform and have no access to the East River Tunnels and are used exclusively by NJ Transit since there's no access to Amtrak's Sunnyside Yard in Queens, NY. From the east, the East River Tunnels' lines 1 and 2 (the more southerly tubes) can only access tracks 5–17 and are used by most Amtrak and NJ Transit trains, while the East River Tunnels' lines 3 and 4 (the more northerly tubes) can only access tracks 14–21 and are mostly used by LIRR. From the west, the North River Tunnels can access tracks 1–19, while the Empire Connection can only access tracks 1–9 and the LIRR's West Side Yard can only access tracks 10–21.
All station tracks are powered by 12 kV overhead wire. Tracks 5–21 also have 750 V DC third rail. Due to the lack of proper ventilation in the tunnels and station, only electric locomotives and dual-mode locomotives are scheduled to enter Penn Station. Diesel-only NJT trains terminate at Hoboken Terminal or Newark Penn Station, and diesel-only LIRR trains terminate at or prior to Long Island City.
Trains on track 18 open their doors only on the north side (platform 10).
2017–2018 service disruptions and track improvements
Since the early 2010s, Amtrak had planned to fix the deteriorating rails and infrastructure around Penn Station, but due to the prioritization of other projects, applied only minimal fixes. In early 2017, this culminated in numerous power outages, derailments, and delays due to track maintenance delays. There were frequent service disruptions to train schedules caused by the deterioration of its tracks and their supporting infrastructure, as well as in those of the East River and North River tunnels that respectively connect the station to Long Island and New Jersey.
A string of early 2017 service disruptions started on March 23, 2017, when an Acela train derailed, causing delays for the day. On April 3, a NJ Transit train derailed at a known problem site, where repairs had been deferred. This caused four days of reduced service along the Northeast Corridor for both Amtrak and NJ Transit, because the incident damaged the switch that connects Tracks 1–8 to the North River tunnels. This closure caused a cascading failure, delaying Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road trains on the unaffected tracks.
On April 14, a New Jersey Transit train became stuck in the North River tunnels, causing the station to grow crowded with waiting passengers. After an Amtrak police officer used a Taser on a man who was acting disruptively, rumors of gunshots sparked a stampede that injured 16 people. Following the stampede, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer called on Amtrak to centralize law enforcement response.
As a result of these incidents, the Long Island Rail Road had proposed taking over Penn Station from Amtrak to improve maintenance, and New Jersey has suggested withholding state payments to Amtrak. Amtrak has discussed accelerating major maintenance work, even at the cost of further disruptions, to more quickly stabilize infrastructure and decrease more future incidents that could potentially cause even greater disruption. On April 28, Amtrak announced that it would perform some track maintenance during the summer over a period of one and a half months. Five tracks were closed for repairs as part of the reconstruction work, severely reducing track capacity in a situation media outlets deemed "the summer of hell". Many affected NJ Transit passengers were diverted to take the PATH instead. Some Amtrak trains from the Empire Corridor were routed to Grand Central instead of Penn Station. Regular service resumed on September 5, 2017.
Amtrak made further improvements to Penn Station's trackage in summer 2018. As a result, some Empire Corridor trains were rerouted again to Grand Central. The Lake Shore Limited and Cardinal to Chicago were truncated or rerouted because of this work.
|33rd St to 34th St subway cross-section|
|11th Av||10th & 9th Avs
|8th Av||Madison Square
|7th Av||Storefronts||6th Av &
|5th & Madison Avs
|mezzanine||A / C / E||concourse||1 / 2 / 3||Former Gimbel's
|mezz||PATH||6 / <6>|
|mezzanine||mezzanine||concourse||mezzanine||N / Q / R / W|
|7 / <7>||Penn Station||B/D/F/<F>/M|
Planning and redevelopment
Resurgence of train ridership in the 21st century has pushed the current Pennsylvania Station structure to capacity, leading to several proposals to renovate or rebuild the station.
In 2013, the Regional Plan Association and the Municipal Art Society formed the Alliance for a New Penn Station. Citing overcrowding and the limited capacity of the current station under Madison Square Garden, the Alliance began to advocate for limiting the extension of Madison Square Garden's operating permit to ten years. On July 24, 2013, the New York City Council voted 47–1 to give the Garden a ten-year operating permit, at the end of which period the owners will either have to relocate, or go back through the permission process.
In May 2013, four architecture firms—SHoP Architects, SOM, H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro—submitted proposals for a new Penn Station. Proposals included moving Madison Square Garden to the Morgan Postal Facility a few blocks southwest and an extension of the High Line to Penn Station, moving Madison Square Garden to the area south of the James Farley Post Office, and moving the arena to a new pier west of Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, all with the intention of redeveloping Penn Station as a mixed-use development. Madison Square Garden rejected the allegations that it would be relocated, and called the plans "pie-in-the-sky."
In January 2016, New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced that requests for proposals would be solicited for the redevelopment of the station, which would be a public-private partnership called the Empire Station Complex. Investors would be granted commercial rights to the station in exchange for paying building costs.
Empire Station Complex
In January 2020, Governor Cuomo unveiled a proposed southern annex to Penn Station, part of his vision for the Empire Station Complex. The annex would include eight additional tracks with four platforms and would involve demolishing the entire block bounded by 30th and 31st streets between Seventh and Eighth avenues, directly south of the existing station. The cost and timeline of the annex was not announced. The project is a breakout from the larger Gateway Program, allowing construction of the annex to proceed independently from the project to build two additional North River tunnels to New Jersey.
In another component of the Empire Station plan under construction, the LIRR concourse will be nearly doubled in width, from 30 to 57 feet (9.1 to 17.4 m), and the ceilings raised to a minimum height of 18 feet (5.5 m). The first piece of this expansion, a new direct entrance from 33rd Street to the LIRR concourse, opened on December 31, 2020. 33rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues is planned to be permanently closed to vehicular traffic and converted into a pedestrian plaza.
In April 2021, MTA officials proposed two options to reconstruct the Penn Station building under Madison Square Garden, following one year of consultations with NJ Transit, Amtrak, FXCollaborative architects, and WSP USA engineers. One alternative would retain the existing two-level passenger concourse, but remove a portion of the upper concourse to create more open space and a balcony. The other alternative envisions the creation of a taller single-level concourse with a multi-story glass atrium in the former taxiway, connecting two new entrances on 31st and 33rd streets. Both plans would improve passenger circulation by adding more elevators, escalators, and stairs from lower concourse to platform level, and could demolish the Hulu Theater for a new Eighth Avenue entrance.
The Gateway Program is a proposed expansion and renovation of the Northeast Corridor between Newark, New Jersey and New York City to alleviate the bottleneck under the Hudson River and allow for refurbishment of the existing North River Tunnels. If constructed, two new tunnels would add 25 cross-Hudson train slots during rush hours and connect to a 7-track, 4-platform terminal annex to Penn Station to its south. Some previously planned improvements already underway have also been incorporated into the Gateway plan.
The Gateway Program was unveiled in 2011, one year after the cancellation of the somewhat-similar Access to the Region's Core (ARC) project, and was originally projected to cost $14.5 billion and take 14 years to build. Construction of a "tunnel box" that would preserve the right-of-way on Manhattan's West Side began in September 2013, using $185 million in recovery and resilience funding awarded after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. In 2015, Amtrak said that damage done to the existing trans-Hudson tunnels by Hurricane Sandy had made their replacement urgent. That year, Amtrak reported that environmental and design work was underway, estimated the project's total cost at $20 billion, and said construction would last four to five years.
A draft environmental impact statement was released in July 2017, but the Trump administration delayed consideration of it. Unblocking the project was a stated priority of the Biden administration which took office in 2021, and the project was approved in May 2021. Federal funding is anticipated in the Biden administration's American Jobs Plan legislation.
New Jersey Transit ALP-45DP locomotive at the platform
- The breakdown of Penn Station's ridership:
- Commuter and intercity rail comprise about 355,000 daily weekday passengers.
- LIRR has an average of 233,340 daily weekday passengers.
- NJ Transit has an average of 93,305 daily weekday passengers.
- Amtrak has an average of 28,487 daily passengers, when annual totals are averaged.
- The two subway stations have a combined average of approximately 200,000 daily weekday passengers. However, this only includes entries and not exits.
- The remainder of the ridership, around 75,000 passengers, may use other transportation such as buses, taxis, or ride-sharing, and may include passengers exiting from the subway.
- Commuter and intercity rail comprise about 355,000 daily weekday passengers.
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