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VentureForth

The Most Awful Transit Center in America

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We should plan a Gathering and take Justin River's "Remnants of Penn Station" guided tour. Sounds fascinating.

Edited by VentureForth

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I thought it would be TRE--but my commute through there is a breeze compared to this.

 

Whenever I go to New England from NJ, the worst part of the journey (actually, the only bad part) is going through the tunnel--I am always afraid it will collapse right then and there.

 

To be fair, the one near Baltimore is pretty scary, too.

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Been to both TRE and NYP, don't think that negatively of either one.

 

By comparison, DAL was pretty bad. I don't think was any soap in the men's bathroom and there was no public intercom system so a lady had to actually speak over probably 100 people to keep us informed about the status of the TE's arrival as it was over 2 hours late getting in. PGH is also an Am-Shack as is SLC. I mean, Penn Station is a palace compared to those dumps so everything's relative.

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Wow, this is a very well-written article! I really hope this gets widespread attention.

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Been to both TRE and NYP, don't think that negatively of either one.

 

By comparison, DAL was pretty bad. I don't think was any soap in the men's bathroom and there was no public intercom system so a lady had to actually speak over probably 100 people to keep us informed about the status of the TE's arrival as it was over 2 hours late getting in. PGH is also an Am-Shack as is SLC. I mean, Penn Station is a palace compared to those dumps so everything's relative.

I agree. Penn Station is crowded and unimpressive, but it is not anywhere near as bad as many travellers claim it to be. Other stations, such as Orlando, may appear nice but are even more overcrowded and disgusting at certain times of the day. Some Amtrak stations have no amenities except a simple platform. While the train halls in stations such as Chicago may be impressive, the average New York traveller would not pass through such a place in Penn Station even if it existed. It is sad that the old train hall was torn down, but there are much more critical projects at the moment. The Gateway Tunnel project is far more important for the area than any station improvement.

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I dunno... I kind of got the impression that the article lays a lot of anguish at Penn Station itself. But it says quite honestly that the real issue is not the station but the infrastructure. Without the tunnels, the station becomes kind of pointless.

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Been to both TRE and NYP, don't think that negatively of either one.

 

By comparison, DAL was pretty bad. I don't think was any soap in the men's bathroom and there was no public intercom system so a lady had to actually speak over probably 100 people to keep us informed about the status of the TE's arrival as it was over 2 hours late getting in. PGH is also an Am-Shack as is SLC. I mean, Penn Station is a palace compared to those dumps so everything's relative.

I agree. Penn Station is crowded and unimpressive, but it is not anywhere near as bad as many travellers claim it to be. Other stations, such as Orlando, may appear nice but are even more overcrowded and disgusting at certain times of the day. Some Amtrak stations have no amenities except a simple platform. While the train halls in stations such as Chicago may be impressive, the average New York traveller would not pass through such a place in Penn Station even if it existed. It is sad that the old train hall was torn down, but there are much more critical projects at the moment. The Gateway Tunnel project is far more important for the area than any station improvement.

The difference between Penn Station and other Amtrak facilities that may only have a single platform and an AmShack is the ridership. Penn serves more people than LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark airports combined each day: 430,000 people. Try standing in the crowded waiting area at rush hour in Penn. The reason it gets so crowded, even to the point of being unsafe, is because trains are delayed due to issues in the tunnels.

Edited by daybeers

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I was in the present Pittsburgh station in 2015, transferring from the Capitol to the Pennsylvanian. Waiting area nothing to rave about, but not that bad and is a proper station. I recall in 1975 boarding the Broadway coach headed east in the old PRR station. Cavernous waiting room that was rather dark. In the middle of the night. I believe that building is now some ritzy condo or something of that order.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

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Penn Station serves an entirely different function than that which the original station did. It is an incredibly busy commuter and corridor station that also has some long distance and medium distance trains. The majority of the people going through the station are in and out, not waiting long periods for trains. A bankrupt company sold off a dirty and run down building that no one was going to pay to fix up. The idea was to make big money on the real estate deal and spur an improvement in that area of Manhattan. They really didn't care much about the resulting station being inadequate. The passenger mix and volume is totally different, would a restored and beautiful station be able to handle today's volume and mix of Amtral, NJT, and LIRR and cut through subway passengers, or would it require an enormous investment to still be viable? Would that area of Manhattan be better off without the new buildings and MSG? That is not an easy call. Regardless, what lies underneath, and East and West, certainly needs addressing sooner rather than later.

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Been to both TRE and NYP, don't think that negatively of either one. By comparison, DAL was pretty bad. I don't think was any soap in the men's bathroom and there was no public intercom system so a lady had to actually speak over probably 100 people to keep us informed about the status of the TE's arrival as it was over 2 hours late getting in. PGH is also an Am-Shack as is SLC. I mean, Penn Station is a palace compared to those dumps so everything's relative.

I agree. Penn Station is crowded and unimpressive, but it is not anywhere near as bad as many travellers claim it to be. Other stations, such as Orlando, may appear nice but are even more overcrowded and disgusting at certain times of the day. Some Amtrak stations have no amenities except a simple platform.

 

With some motivation and money the problems with DAL can be fixed. Add soap, install a public address system, etc. If ORL is nasty it can be cleaned up with better maintenance and a janitor service. Even Amshacks like SLC can be removed and replaced with something else. It won't be cheap but if the will and funding is there it can be done. But NYP is unique in that it has no practical path to meaningful improvement. The primary tenant couldn't care less if the station is a dump, there's no alternative location for all these trains to call during major renovations, and any serious plan for returning NYP to its former glory would outlive nearly everyone on the forum. That's a distinction with a difference. Anyone who thinks NYP isn't that bad should consider visiting some major high volume train stations in other industrialized democracies before solidifying their position.

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Honestly, most of the problems with Penn are operational and managerial. Penn is a through station with 18 through tracks (and 4 stubs), but Amtrak and NJT use their side like primarily like a stub end, and LIRR does a better job- average LIRR turning is 10 minutes to NJTs 30.

 

If the three fiefdoms could come together and propose an operational change to stop every train from fouling A interlocking coming and going, a new celebration of arrivals would be redundant.

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The article states that the Moynihan Station was nixed, but another article I read stated that renovations have begun in the old Post Office. Anyone on the ground there with any info?

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Moynihan is not a "station" no matter how many people say so. It is just a fancy west side concourse that feeds the same Penn Station platforms.

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Moynihan is not a "station" no matter how many people say so. It is just a fancy west side concourse that feeds the same Penn Station platforms.

Glad to know you are the authority on such matters. It certainly would be an improvement... The latest news I've seen says construction began August of 2017.

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Portal Bridge has been stuck open for a few hours and the Amtrak website is silent on the matter.

 

I bring it up because the plans for new tunnels included a new bridge

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JIS is completely right. Thats why I called it a celebration of arrivals; its functional improvements are minimal and have nothing to do with train movement.

What do you call it then... A new waiting room? Edited by crescent-zephyr

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Aren't the platforms essentially the same as they were in the Pennsylvania RR days? I mean, aren't they the same width and length? If so, then yes, refurbishing the concourse would be a huge improvement to the Penn Station experience. With new tunnel proposals, I haven't seen any indication of widening the platforms.

 

Just out of curiosity, can they dig new tunnels under the existing ones with a new set of platforms 25-50 feet below the existing ones? That's the ONLY way I see relief on the platforms and perhaps maintaining or increasing capacity.

 

Tokyo station isn't really that much different, style wise, on the platforms. It's a huge gated station with additional gates to Shinkansen. But once through the ticket wickets, there are hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail, stairs, platforms, moving sidewalks, customer service, etc. The main station is at ground level and there are 10 platforms with 20 tracks above 2 stories higher. There are also two separate areas with two platforms and four stubs each 4 stories underground. When I was in high school, I had to walk between almost the furthest two points in the station. Tokyo Station has around 450,000 boardings daily. Doesn't include through traffic. So, not much unlike Penn Station.

 

I say that to say this: they literally raised two or three platforms and associated tracks in the 90's without disrupting service. When there is a will, there is funding. When there is funding, there is a way. Chronic problem in New York seems to be overruns every time a project starts. I'm not going to claim corruption, but there's a HUGE difference in how money is spent when the Government provides funding vs when a private enterprise spends theirs.

Edited by VentureForth

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Apparently not as was discovered during the design work for ARC. Incompetent Rocks they said.

 

But Gateway does have a viable plan for adding platforms.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

Edited by jis

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There really isn’t a need to increase the number of platforms; in fact, I would take the stubs out of service. What you really need is to run it as a through station. All LIRR trains through to West Side, all NJTs through to Sunnyside.

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Aren't the platforms essentially the same as they were in the Pennsylvania RR days? I mean, aren't they the same width and length? If so, then yes, refurbishing the concourse would be a huge improvement to the Penn Station experience. With new tunnel proposals, I haven't seen any indication of widening the platforms.

 

Just out of curiosity, can they dig new tunnels under the existing ones with a new set of platforms 25-50 feet below the existing ones? That's the ONLY way I see relief on the platforms and perhaps maintaining or increasing capacity.

 

Tokyo station isn't really that much different, style wise, on the platforms. It's a huge gated station with additional gates to Shinkansen. But once through the ticket wickets, there are hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail, stairs, platforms, moving sidewalks, customer service, etc. The main station is at ground level and there are 10 platforms with 20 tracks above 2 stories higher. There are also two separate areas with two platforms and four stubs each 4 stories underground. When I was in high school, I had to walk between almost the furthest two points in the station. Tokyo Station has around 450,000 boardings daily. Doesn't include through traffic. So, not much unlike Penn Station.

 

I say that to say this: they literally raised two or three platforms and associated tracks in the 90's without disrupting service. When there is a will, there is funding. When there is funding, there is a way. Chronic problem in New York seems to be overruns every time a project starts. I'm not going to claim corruption, but there's a HUGE difference in how money is spent when the Government provides funding vs when a private enterprise spends theirs.

Yes, they are the same platforms, although the extra supports for Madison Square Garden obstruct platform space considerably more than what it was before they demolished the original Penn Station and built MSG. In fact all three operational levels of Penn Station (tracks, mezzanine/LIRR, and main waiting room) are at the levels they originally were and have the pretty much the same overall footprint, although the floorplan of the the LIRR and main waiting room levels is considerably different. Old Penn was demolished and New Penn/MSG was built around them and they were in continuous use throughout the demolition/construction. I bought a really interesting book on the subject, whose name escapes me since I am at work, not at home and can't refer to it.

Edited by zephyr17

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