The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is boosting service on the Long Island Rail Road and the Metro-North as two more New York regions are officially cleared to start reopening. The Hudson Vallery region and Long Island have met the state’s metrics to begin reopening phase one businesses, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this week. Starting Wednesday, the MTA will increase capacity by 26 percent on Metro-North with 18 additional trains during peak service, as well as add 105 Long Island Railroad cars to meet restored demand for service.
Since the 1990s, the Regional Plan Association has been advocating for the restoration of passenger service to a rail line known as the Bay Ridge Branch that runs from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn to Astoria, Queens and is now used as a freight line. The MTA has announced that it will begin a feasibility study to “evaluate the potential for subway, commuter rail, light rail or bus service” along the line, which the agency notes would create the potential for reverse commuting and connect to 19 subway lines and the LIRR. In October, the RPA’s Kate Slevin explained to NY1, “We don’t have unlimited resources here in New York City, as we know, so the fact that we already have tracks there, that are underutilized, really means a lot.”
Photo of Hudson Yards via Flickr
As Related Companies CEO Stephen Ross continues to face backlash for throwing a fundraiser on Friday for President Donald Trump, his company is dealing with some drama of its own. Plans submitted a year ago to the Long Island Rail Road for the second phase of the Hudson Yards development have still not been approved by the agency, the New York Post reported.
Rendering courtesy of Governor Cuomo’s office
Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced plans for a new Long Island Rail Road station to be built as part of the Belmont Park Redevelopment Project, which will provide a home base for the National Hockey League’s New York Islanders. The station will serve the proposed 19,000-seat arena, a 250-room hotel, and a 435,000-square-foot retail complex at the state-owned horseracing venue, as well as local commuters who have long needed more transportation options. Located between the Queens Village and Bellerose stations on the LIRR’s Main Line, the station will be the first full-time LIRR station built in 50 years. It’s expected to be partially open by 2021—as the Islanders arena opens to the public—and fully operational by 2023.
On Thursday Governor Andrew M. Cuomo unveiled the final design for the new main entrance to Penn Station. The new 33rd Street and 7th Avenue entrance will provide much-needed direct access to the Long Island Rail Road main concourse and the subway, eliminate congestion by doubling capacity for riders entering and leaving the LIRR level and enhance safety and security. Construction begins next month and will wrap up in December of 2020. The new design is the first we’ve seen of the $600 million Penn Station revamp since last September when Gov. Cuomo revealed a new LIRR entrance and public plaza.
Photo via Flickr cc
Here’s what you need to know to get where you’re going by NYC public transit this Thanksgiving weekend. Special schedules apply for trains and buses from Wednesday, November 21, through Sunday, November 25 to get you over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house and back Thanksgiving weekend. The good news is that MTA is suspending bridge and tunnel maintenance for the holiday, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North are providing extra service, off-peak fares apply, and there’s a free bus to La Guardia. Look below for more information.
Rendering via the Governor’s office
At a well-timed press event this morning, Governor Cuomo touted the state’s $100 billion building program, the largest in the nation, and said if elected for another term, he’d increase that commitment to $150 billion. Among the many airport redesigns and the subway emergency plan, perhaps no project is more dear to Cuomo’s heart than that of Penn Station. And after a tour of the Moynihan Train Hall, on budget and on track to open by the end of 2020, the Governor announced that the dire safety, security, and circulation situation at Penn Station cannot wait two more years.
While construction wraps up at the LIRR and Amtrak’s future home, the state will build a new LIRR facility in the existing Penn Station. The proposal will double access to the trains with new entrances and an enlarged concourse and will create a permanent public plaza at 33rd Street and 7th Avenue.
Workers at East Side Access project in 2016 via MTA’s Flickr
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved on Wednesday an amendment to its capital plan that allows for more than $400 million to be invested in the East Side Access, a project that began more than a decade ago. In addition to exceptional construction delays, the project’s price tag has jumped dramatically, from early estimates of roughly $2.2 billion to now over $11 billion (h/t NY Times). As a way to reduce crowds at Penn Station, East Side Access will connect the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal.
A map showing T-REX’s new crosstown connections, via RPA
When NYC’s three commuter railroads–the Long Island Railroad, New Jersey Transit, and Metro-North–were built more than a century ago when the metropolitan area was less than half its current size. Today, the systems are crumbling, both in their physical infrastructure and politics. The latest suggestion for how to fix the issues comes from a new Regional Plan Association report that wants to take advantage of the fact that these railroads “share an amalgamation of rail lines” and thereby create one integrated regional rail network. Dubbed T-REX, short for Trans-Regional Express, the 30-year, $71.4 billion proposal would add 60 new train stations and more than 200 miles of new tracks.
Photo via Kev Harb via Flickr
The emergency Penn Station repairs that began in July will be completed on time with regular operating service resuming on Sept. 5, Amtrak announced Thursday. After delays and a few train derailments, Amtrak closed 21 tracks at Penn earlier this summer. Nearly seven weeks of the eight scheduled weeks of repair work for this “summer of hell” have been completed thus far.