The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has announced the imminent start of the first phase of the expansion of Penn Station, a long-term project that will eventually reconstruct the main Post Office west of Eighth Avenue into the new Moynihan Station, mostly to be used by Amtrak. According to the Associated Press, published in the Star-Ledger (May 9), Port Authority chairman Patrick Foyle said, “From the point of view of NJ Transit Riders, this is going to be a significant advancement.” The first phase concentrates on improved access to the west end of Penn Station and will expand an existing concourse that today serves only Long Island Rail Road riders; the concourse is at the northwest corner of Penn Station and is actually under the Post Office. There will be new escalators and elevators and new street-level access to Eighth Avenue at 31th and 32t Streets. This first phase is due to begin this summer and be finished by 2016.
The Lackawanna Coalition is concerned that the existing access to NJ Transit trains at Penn Station, despite improvements over the years, remains inadequate and sometimes even dangerous as heavy passenger loads attempt to board and leave trains, sometimes simulataneously on the same platform. Access to the west end of the platforms, as planned by the new program, is particularly critical, given that many NJT off-peak departing trains inexplicably are positioned so that the only open cars are at the extreme west end.