Gov. Cuomo calls on LIRR to reduce fares during Penn Station repairs

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Tim Fleischer reports on Cuomo's comments, suggesting the riders should get a discount for having to adjust their commutes.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke at Penn Station Monday about what he has called "the summer of hell" regarding repair work in the wake of derailments and power problems that have plagued commuters.

Cuomo suggested that riders should get a discount for having to adjust their commutes.

"I think the LIRR should consider reducing the fares on those diverted trains," he said. "That's only fair to the people who are taking the trains. And you want to make sure the people do take the diverted trains, as I said, we don't have the capacity on the direct trains. So I would ask them to consider reduced fares for the people who take those diverted trains."

Shortly after Cuomo's comments, the MTA seemed to go along with his suggestion.

"Governor Cuomo is right that due to Amtrak's repairs, some customers are paying for a service they won't be getting this summer, and that they deserve a fare decrease," MTA interim executive director Ronnie Hakim said. "We intend to follow the governor's lead and make sure our riders are fairly compensated."

Cuomo was joined by Senator Charles Schumer to mark the opening of Penn Station's expanded West End Concourse, offering new airy access to Long Island Rail Road trains into Penn Station that frequently derided by commuters for being dark, dangerous and overcrowded.

The new entrance, at the intersection of Eighth Avenue and West 33rd Street, takes commuters to a new west-end concourse that includes a calming digital sky and large windows that allow commuters to view the trains below.

"The state-of-the-art-infrastructure, technology upgrades, and wayfinding improvements of the expanded West End concourse will provide immediate relief for passengers enduring increasing congestion and overcrowding in Penn Station and help New Yorkers get to where they need to go better and faster," Cuomo said.

The wide layout and clear signage, including large digital screens that display schedule and track info, are a marked change from the current LIRR entrances to Penn Station, which sometimes are packed to the point of having to be closed by police for safety.

"This is a monumental day in New York City history because we are one step closer to making Senator Moynihan's vision of transforming the Farley Post Office into a 21st century rail hub a reality," Schumer said. "The expanded West End Concourse will take tremendous pressure off of the overcrowded Penn Station complex, and attract visitors and community residents to the food, shopping and grandeur of the entire complex."

The larger project involves redeveloping the historic Farley Post Office into the 255,000-square-foot Moynihan Train Hall to serve passengers on Amtrak and LIRR trains. The facility will also have substantial office and retail space.

Penn Station now serves 650,000 passengers per day - three times the number it was designed for - making it the busiest train station in North America.

The full project is slated for completion in 2020.

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