Let's Fix Penn Station

We must act now so we can finally fix this transit nightmare.

About Public for Penn

Public for Penn Station, a new commuter advocacy campaign, brings together transit and planning expertise and grassroots energy to increase the pressure on our local, state and federal leaders to finally address the Penn Station nightmare before it’s too late. Our campaign will push our elected leaders to put forward a comprehensive and feasible plan that addresses the capacity and safety issues that plague commuters.

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A Reimagined Penn Station

There’s no shortage of feasible, solution-oriented proposals for a reimagined Penn Station. It’s now time to put these ideas into action and make the vision for a safer Penn Station a reality. We cannot wait.

 

View looking North on 8th Avenue, showing the new commuter station on the right and the Farley building on the left. Courtesy: Practice for Architecture and Urbanism
Aerial view of proposed scheme. Courtesy: Practice for Architecture and Urbanism
Courtesy: Practice for Architecture and Urbanism
View from a platform, where the stairway and others surviving features from the original Penn Station building could again be preserved. Courtesy: Practice for Architecture and Urbanism
View from the Southwest entrance to the station, facing the Farley building that would house Amtrak; this entrance would be much more porous to the city in this design. Courtesy: Practice for Architecture and Urbanism
Courtesy: Practice for Architecture and Urbanism
Cutting holes between the Upper and Lower Levels can dramatically increase visibility to boarding, provide smoother flow and improve the passenger experience. (Looking Northwest at the Upper and Lower Level Exit Concourses). Courtesy: HOK
Widened concourses can improve passenger flow and be sized for future demand. (Looking west toward 8th Avenue along the 32nd Street axis). Courtesy: HOK
Removing the taxiway slab beneath the MSG bridge can bring daylight into the center of the station (Looking east toward 7th Avenue along the 32nd Street axis). Courtesy: HOK
Courtesy: UPenn Design Studio
Courtesy: UPenn Design Studio
At 8th Avenue and 33rd Street a new station entrance brings more natural light into the subterranean station and creates visible connections to Moynihan Station above. Widened concourses would allow for easier pedestrian flow. Architect & Landscape Architect: Snøhetta. Rendering: Icon.
Inside the new station entry at 33rd Street and 7th Avenue, the open space allows more natural light into the station and provides visual connections to the surrounding city. A new expanded LIRR concourse also creates new retail opportunities and neighborhood amenities. Architect & Landscape Architect: Snøhetta. Rendering: Icon.
With the closure of 33rd Street, a new mid block atrium draws daylight into the LIRR concourse below. Renovated retail spaces and clear signage and wayfinding allow for improved ease of movement through the station. Adjacent to the atrium on 33rd Street sits a pedestrian garden that provides new green space for the surrounding neighborhood and a respite within the city. Architect & Landscape Architect: Snøhetta. Rendering: Icon.

Principles for a Better Penn

Capacity

  • A plan must address the current and future capacity needs of Penn Station; built to accommodate 200,000 passengers per day, the station now operates at more than three times intended capacity with double-digit growth projected over the next twenty years (RPA estimates that ridership through Penn Station will increase by 40% as more commuters travel from New Jersey to New York City)

Safety

  • In the event of a fire or terror-related emergency, commuters must be able to quickly, easily and safely exit the station regardless of where they are inside
  • Passengers must have comfortable areas to wait for trains within Penn Station so they are not forced to congregate around track display monitors or outside platform doors
  • Commuters must be able to exit platforms immediately upon stepping off trains, without having to wait in line for escalators or stairs

Dignity

  • No matter the season, temperature inside the station must be comfortable for commuters, without extreme heat or cold, including on the platform level
  • Penn Station must be fully ADA accessible, allowing all passengers, including those with limited mobility to be able to easily go from level to level within the station at all hours, including rush hour
  • New Yorkers must have a world-class gateway worthy of the busiest transportation hub in the Western Hemisphere

Equity

  • Regardless of whether passengers are coming from the NYC Subway, Long Island Rail Road, Metro North, New Jersey Transit or interstate travel via Amtrak, they must have access to adequate waiting areas, restrooms and reasonable amenities within the station

Community

  • The station must seamlessly blend with surrounding buildings and the streetscape to create a welcoming, safe environment that complements the neighborhood
  • As a modern, 21st-century transit hub, Penn Station must be designed with pedestrians and cyclists top of mind, offering ample bike parking, bike share docking stations and easily accessible restrooms and water fountains

Sustainability

  • Any new major infrastructure endeavor on this scale must consider its environmental footprint; best practices may include repurposing existing elements of the station and leveraging energy efficient design, such as passive heating and cooling

Feasibility

  • New York’s leaders must take advantage of the once in a generation opportunity to fix Penn Station while there are temporarily fewer passengers using the space as the result of the opening of East Side Access and Moynihan Train Hall
  • With MSG’s operating permit set to expire in 2023, there must be a clear plan to move Madison Square Garden so that safety and capacity can be drastically improved
  • The priority use and functionality of the future station must be to serve commuters

Supporters

The following individuals and organizations are proud to support the Public for Penn Station campaign.

“Doing nothing on Penn Station cannot be an option, ridership has the potential to increase by as much as 150,000 people by the year 2040. We want these commuters on trains, and not adding to the congestion on City streets. But if we don’t prepare Penn, delays, emergency incidents and dangerous overcrowding will only get worse, putting human lives and our region’s entire economy in serious jeopardy.”

Tom Wright, President, Regional Plan Association

“Commuters have suffered through deteriorating transit infrastructure for too long. Penn Station presents very troubling safety challenges that we don’t see anywhere else across our system. It’s time to finally address these issues once and for all.”

Nick Sifuentes, executive director, Tri-State Transportation Campaign

“Penn Station is at a breaking point, a crisis that didn’t happen overnight but was created out of generations of neglect. Our leaders must grapple with the complex, long-term planning required to truly rebuild and deliver the new Penn Station that our city deserves. With five years left on Madison Square Garden’s operating permit, the time to act is now.”

Elizabeth Goldstein, President, the Municipal Art Society of New York

“There is no argument that Penn Station is in dire need of attention. Penn Station welcomes more than half-a-million commuters, New Yorkers, and visitors every day. It is time the infrastructure be updated to fit the needs of our travelers in the 21st Century.”

Keith Powers, Council Member, District 4

“For far too long, the greatest city in the world has been saddled with one of its worst major transit complexes in the form of Penn Station. It’s time to chart real, concrete solutions to provide midtown Manhattan with the new hub we need and finally lay a foundation for this region’s rail transit network and economy that will be sound for decades to come.”

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer

“The situation at Penn Station is dire, which bottlenecks hundreds of thousands of commuters every day. Unlike our subway network, which spans across four boroughs, Penn Station is a centralized location that we have the know-how to fix today.”

John Raskin, executive director, Riders Alliance

“We need a real, comprehensive plan for Penn Station and the surrounding streets to address the serious safety issues at this critical transit center. The clock is ticking which is why we are launching this campaign to hold our leaders accountable.”

Marco Conner, Deputy Director, Transportation Alternatives

“Our public spaces are a reflection of our values and today Penn Station is a poor reflection of the welcome we want to give to the hundreds of thousands of people who use it daily. We need our leaders in concert with local stakeholders to build on what has been years of good ideas and turn them into action now.”

Susan Chin, executive director, Design Trust for Public Space

“More people enter Penn Station on a daily basis than the entire population of Portland, Oregon, and Las Vegas. While it’s the nation’s busiest train hall, it’s also crucial that we get a plan for Penn Station that takes into consideration the local neighborhoods and businesses which I represent. I’m grateful to the Regional Plan Association for launching this important commuter advocacy campaign.”

State Senator Brad Hoylman, District 27

“The transformation of Penn Station has the potential to anchor an entire neighborhood renaissance, from a place all of us race through to an inviting space for New Yorkers and visitors alike. With the impending opening of Moynihan Station and East Side Access, now is the time to plan for this transformation and finally make it reality.”      

David Sandler, chair of Manhattan Community Board 5 Transportation and Environment Committee

Contribute

To make a contribution to support Public for Penn Station, email info@publicforpenn.org.