Nearly 6 months after NJ Transit’s 7th Avenue Concourse restrooms at New York Penn Station embarrassed the railroad when their decrepit conditions were publicly disclosed, a 2-week renovation began on January 2 as the facilities were closed for the work. Temporary repairs had been made after NJ Association of Railroad Passengers President Albert Papp Jr. publicized broken faucets, cracks patched with duct tape, and toilet paper dispensers plastered to the wall by more tape.
Papp, a past president of the Lackawanna Coalition, took the action after his repeated private requests to NJT went unheeded. According to reporting by Mike Frassinelli in the Star-Ledger (Jan. 2), NJT Executive Director Jim Weinstein said recently that the work will “provide customers with an improved facility at one of our busiest stations.” The 7th Avenue concourse area is the newest area serving NJT customers at Penn Station and is heavily used, yet seems to have aged rapidly; a “bridge” corridor connecting the ticketing area with the “elevator” concourse has been closed for some time and continues under repair, for undisclosed reasons, forcing handicapped customers and others who would prefer not to have to climb stairs into a lengthy detour to reach rest rooms and elevator access to the train platforms. While the rest rooms are closed, passengers have a choice of two other, even less attractive and often more crowded locations in Penn Station: the Amtrak rest rooms near 33 St and 8th Avenue, very far from the closed facilities; and the Long Island Rail Road rest rooms, reachable by escalators from the NJT concourse.