Regarding Calls to Remove Funding for Penn Station from the State Budget
Joint Statement on the Empire Station Complex
On April 1, the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) and partners issued the following statement regarding the Empire Station Complex and the proposed General Project Plan. Elizabeth Goldstein, President of MAS, currently serves on the Empire Station Complex Community Advisory Committee. For more than thirty years, MAS has raised the alarm about the crisis at Penn Station. Our vision and the underlying studies can be found on the Penn 2023 section of our website. Learn more >
Joint Statement from Municipal Art Society, Regional Plan Association, Design Trust for Public Space, Riders Alliance, Transportation Alternatives, and Tri-State Transportation Campaign
The prospect of ending the Penn Station nightmare and solving the station’s safety, dignity, and capacity issues is closer to reality than perhaps ever before. Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) have taken important initial steps toward planning a renovation and expansion of Penn Station, primarily through a General Project Plan (GPP) and Master Plan for the Empire Station Complex. Yet, as elected officials and community representatives have noted, it is impossible for the GPP to move ahead without advancing and clearly understanding the plans for a unified Empire Station Complex.
While there are some very positive elements in the plans to build on, there must also be an opportunity for input from elected officials, the city, and local community and a process for constructive feedback. This has been largely absent so far. Agencies must also seriously consider – and communicate – the pros and cons of potential alternatives. Until questions about Penn Station have been fully addressed and a more substantive engagement with stakeholders has taken place, the GPP process must be paused.
Empire Station Complex needs a real master plan that addresses transit capacity and transit improvements across all transportation providers as well as the subway and bus network. It must also address pedestrian access and public improvements through a cohesive vision that integrates forward-thinking urban design and environmental sustainability. It should also be clear about how the transit agencies will work together to achieve a truly unified station complex with streamlined operations that will solve issues that have plagued passengers for over half a century.
The timing couldn’t be better. The American Jobs Plan that President Biden unveiled yesterday includes $2 trillion for infrastructure, including a substantial investment in mass transit and Amtrak. We finally have an administration that understands and wants to address problems like Penn Station. The NY State Legislature and Governor’s Office should keep the funding outlined in the Executive Budget in place. This allows planning for station improvements and the Penn South expansion to continue and demonstrates local support for federal funding. However, accessing that funding should be conditional on the adoption of a master plan and comprehensive approach to the Empire Station Complex.
Our groups remain committed to a new vision for a transformed station and a revitalized neighborhood. We remain convinced that framing area redevelopment – along with support from the Federal Government and New York State – is the right approach. That funding, however, must support a comprehensive and widely supported project with a right-sized development for New York City. Penn Station needs a master plan to become a grand new civic space and a gateway to the greatest city in the world with enough capacity to handle our region’s passengers for the next 100 years.