January 21st, 2015, 12:13 pm
24 million visitors headed for Hudson Yards through aging tunnels and a train station already operating at 3x capacity
The Municipal Art Society of New York unveiled an interactive timeline summarizing into one story the enormous development underway on Manhattan’s west side, and underscoring the need for a plan regarding how the overcrowded Penn Station would handle such growth.
Although each project is worthy in its own right, the current patchwork of infrastructure projects impacting West Midtown—Moynihan Station, East Side Access, the 7-line extension—will not be sufficient to address the overcrowding problems at Penn Station or alleviate the burden on our crumbling Hudson River tunnels:
Moynihan Station is not enough:
Moynihan Station will primarily serve passengers on Amtrak, who account for less than 7 percent of current commuter and intercity passengers at Penn. Moynihan will only serve as a waiting area and an alternate exit point for these passengers; it will not increase the number of trains that can run into West Midtown. Furthermore, Amtrak expects train traffic along the entire Northeast Corridor to nearly double in the next 30-40 years, and Penn is the busiest train station along the Corridor.
East Side Access is not enough:
East Side Access will divert directly to Grand Central Terminal a specific group of Long Island Rail Road passengers—Midtown East-bound passengers who currently have to travel from Long Island into Penn Station only to double back to reach their Midtown East destination. In essence, it will deliver Midtown East-bound passengers to their destination faster, but it will not directly alleviate the passenger crush coming to Midtown West with the completion of Hudson Yards.
Extending the 7-line is not enough:
The 7-line extension will offer a new path to West Midtown for New York City residents, but cannot serve passengers who originate in New Jersey. NJ Transit currently brings as many passengers to Midtown West as the 1/2/3 subway line and the A/C/E line, indicating that the Midtown West daily commuter population is made up of more than just city residents.
Gateway is not enough:
Even with the Gateway Plan—which will bring new capacity to the station through the construction of additional tracks, tunnels, and a southern annex—a majority of passengers will still continue to use the existing Penn Station complex between 31st and 33rd streets. Furthermore, the Gateway Project remains unfunded and more urgent every day.
Penn Station was constructed to accommodate 200,000 riders daily. NJ Transit alone brings 160,000 daily passengers per day to Penn Station, and those are the numbers as they exist today, prior to the opening of Hudson Yards. Hudson Yards will be the size of downtown Minneapolis once it’s completed, adding 24 million visitors to the neighborhood annually. This incredible revitalization of the Far West Side warrants a serious plan for the future of its beleaguered train station.