New York Penn Station: 3 Topics

Overcrowding, Flooding and Maintenance


Overcrowding becomes an apparent issue after reading multiple reports which site numbers around half a million users of the station that was designed for only 200,000 travelers. The original 1910 station by McKim, Mead and White, was a lofty spacious structure, only to be placed by the oppressive design that is the current state. To accommodate this issue the concourse is expanding to the adjacent historic post office. However, there are no plans to address the platform level adequately. Many such as CityLab find the current renovation is one of the forms instead of function.
Attention needs to be placed at the platform level for safety, comfort, and security of passengers and employees. Not only have business lost money due to issues caused by overcrowding, many incidents have occurred where riders have been struck by trains. The MTA reported that each year more than 100 incidents have occurred resulting in the death of about 50 people each year. The reason for some of these incidents is due to tripping/falling onto tracks.
These moments beg the question that the platform level of New York’s Penn Station is not adequate for its current and growing ridership. It would seem the platforms are indeed inadequate, but to what extent? How far would renovations need to go, to create a safe platform environment?
Many groups have proposed designs to improve the platform level through widening platforms, increased vertical circulation, and a rerouting of the trains to improved train traffic flows. Other proposals that exist outside the realm of physical alterations focus on management. One proposal called upon operations teams to adopt the boarding procedures of other nations where platform numbers are posted months in advance, unlike the US system. In the US it is typical to find people crowded around the variable message signage awaiting their gate number to be announced moments before boarding, once called there is a mad dash to the gate, only to be hit by a wall of people.
There are many issues surrounding Penn Station given it is such a large transportation hub in a complex intermodal network, overcrowding is a prevalent topic of concern, so it is worth researching further. With further research, we will be able to grasp a more thorough understanding of the topic and associated issues to propose an intervention which would positively impact the users of New York’s Penn Station.

Sources Amtrak Press Release

Flooding (water and rain)

One of the most important reasons for delay or cancellation in Penn Station is flooding issue according to the news. New York City has been suffering flood, especially in the recent years because of the climate change.
As is known, if rains were so heavy in midtown, the main entrance to NY Penn Station would get flooded and shut down part of the busy transit hub to ensure safety to both trains and passengers. Witnesses reported seeing "actual waves" rolling through the street.
When the bad weather meets poor infrastructure, things will get frustrating. For example, Long Island Rail Road commuters reported leakage in the train station. This secondary disaster also causes another problem. For instance, sewage seeps from Penn station Ceiling, making the station disgusting. Even the Amtrak spokeswoman promised to get it done quickly, he couldn’t confirm the track outage dates with Patch, which brought uncertainty to travelers.
It is true that Penn Station has an advanced early warning system to allow citizens and travelers get information about extreme weather, it is also true that the station can quickly give the response to the emergency. However, Penn Station should take precautions before it is too late. To those who suffer from the issue, they may post the experience in social media such as Twitter or Instagram, especially for those who got stuck in the station and the only thing they can do is to play with their social media via their phone. From some video that people posted on Youtube, Penn Station is called “the worst place in NY,” which is horrible news for Penn Station’s reputation.



Penn Station’s infrastructure is aging.  When originally conceived of more than 100 years ago, Penn Station was meant to serve long-haul rail service.  Fast forward to 1986 and Penn Station was managing 661 train movements per day.  Today, with four tunnels feeding 21 tracks, Penn Station is responsible for squeezing 1,200 trains per day, nearly double the amount of 30 years ago, and it has become North America’s busiest train station.  It is busier that Newark, J.F.K. International and LaGuardia airports combined.   Yet through such a remarkable surge in track usage and ridership one component has remained unchanged: its infrastructure.

This prolonged lack of attention to upgrades and system-wide maintenance of the infrastructure of Penn Station — its tracks, switch, signal, facility and other systems — resulting from Amtrak’s traditional maintenance philosophy to minimize inconvenience to commuters, led to a series of derailments and emergency repairs that forced numerous route cancellations and train traffic snarls. It’s widely recognized that the aging infrastructure has reached its breaking point where further neglect will result in failure.

The problems at Penn Station in 11 painful steps
Amtrak President and CEO Wick Moorman Announces New York Penn Station Improvement Initiatives
Infrastructure Renewal at New York Penn Station

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