I join my Long Island Senate colleagues in urging the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to reject a proposal which could reduce Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) service into Penn Station.
In a letter to MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota, I and my colleagues noted the MTA is currently considering a proposal to allow Metro-North Railroad to operate trains into Penn Station using the existing tracks currently shared by the LIRR, Amtrak and NJ Transit. Recent media reports stated Metro-North plans on building six new stations as part of its new access plan, yet there has been no information released on how this plan will be financed nor whether an environmental impact study has been conducted.
To make room for the new Metro-North Trains, the LIRR could be forced to cut the number of trains it runs into Penn Station. The LIRR is already sharing ingress into Penn Station, and any reduction of service could have a devastating impact on commuters and other travelers. With only seven of Penn Stationís existing 21 tracks being allotted to the LIRR, any reductions would seriously impair LIRR operations and affect all LIRR riders.
In order to ease LIRR congestion into Penn Station, the East Side Access Project is underway, which will bring LIRR trains into Grand Central Station. That project is far from complete, however, and congestion at Penn Station is a major concern. Even when the East Side Access Project is finally finished, the LIRR will still need to operate at Penn Station to meet a project significant increase in ridership over the next several years.
I appreciate and support the MTAís desire to expand services. But not at the expense of the LIRRís ability to operate into Penn Station now and into the future. This proposal could have the effect of actually putting more riders into their cars on already over-congested roads, something we are trying to avoid at all costs.