MTA proposes New Haven rail line to Penn Station

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Josh Einiger on the future changes coming for commuters. (WABC)

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is proposing to extend Metro-North Railroad's New Haven line to Penn Station in Manhattan to ease crowding and provide access to Manhattan's West Side as part of a broad $32 billion, four-year capital improvement program.

The regional transit agency also proposes to build four stations in the Bronx, buy subway cars, Staten Island Railway cars and buses, improve tracks, signals and other equipment and upgrade bridges.

For tens of thousands in the middle class, east Bronx enclave of Co-op City, an express bus is the easiest way to get to Midtown, but for Creighton Davis, it isn't that easy.

"Especially on the weekends, you have to wait a half hour for bus to come through, connections it's really bad, really bad," Davis said.

With no quick access to subways, people there have been clamoring for years for better transit options.

Wednesday, the MTA board took a big step forward in granting that wish.

On an existing track owned by Amtrak, they plan to build new stations for transit on the Metro North New Haven Line.

"Oh that's going to be wonderful, probably going to be a 15, 20 minute convenience. Versus on the bus, probably about an hour and 15 minutes depending how far you're going downtown," said Tom Prendergast, the MTA Chairman.

They'll follow a more easterly route, taking them to Penn Station, instead of Grand Central, and along the way making new stops at Co-op City, Morris Park, Parkchester and Hunts Point.

"Not only would serve a market for people going from those stations to Manhattan, but people from Manhattan going to employment centers growing in that part of the Bronx," Prendergast said.

But not so fast, because there's no room at Penn Station for any new train service, the MTA says it won't happen, until they finish a different ongoing project to redirect some Long Island Rail Road service from Penn, to Grand Central.

That project is still almost a decade from completion. Which is why Co-op City resident Raheem Meekins will still be riding the bus, for years.

"The year 2022," Eyewitness News reporter Josh Einiger said.

"Wow. Well isn't anytime soon that's for sure," Meekins said.

The MTA also promises to complete the installation of positive train control systems, which are designed to automatically stop or slow a train before certain accidents occur. Four passengers were killed in a Metro-North derailment last December in the Bronx.

The MTA system of commuter trains, subways and buses, serves 8.7 million riders a day. The MTA says it doesn't have enough money to fund its capital program. It says it has identified about $17 billion in funding sources that include money from Washington, bonding and $3 billion in unspecified MTA sources.

MTA says it will work with its partners, including Connecticut and New York, to bridge a $15.2 billion gap.

The 2015-19 Capital Program is to be presented to the MTA board for approval Wednesday.

Metro-North's New Haven line now ends at Grand Central Terminal on Manhattan's East Side.

(Some information from the Associated Press)

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