Penn Station repairs producing few problems

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Jim Hoffer reports on the smooth start to the summer of Penn Station repairs.

Tuesday marked the second day of repairs without any major issues. So far the biggest complaints seem to be overcrowding and some delays.

The Long Island Rail Road said 7,000 fewer riders went into Penn Station on Monday morning, a decrease of 8-percent. Not surprising, Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal saw an increase of 67-percent over a typical weekday on Monday. Ridership into LIRR's Hunterspoint Avenue station in Queens was 6,000 commuters during the morning rush, an increase of 90-percent. The evening commute also seemed to go off without a hitch.

"Everything seemed to go right," MTA Chairman Lhota said. "This is what happens when you plan."

Lhota also sounded a note of warning. The list of potential threats to continued smooth operations is long -- a mishap in the Amtrak tunnels, a bad thunderstorm, even commuters who let down their guard and decide they no longer have to wake up early to avoid bottlenecks.

"Tomorrow is another day, and we have to be as vigilant," he said.

In addition, New Jersey Transit also reported a drop of 8,700 riders into Penn station in the morning, but slightly more riders went into Hoboken. Additional buses NJ Transit ran to Manhattan carried more than 3,400 passengers and additional ferry service from Hoboken to Midtown carried 1,264 passengers on Monday.
The eight-week infrastructure renovation project is causing disruptions for hundreds of thousands of commuters.

The three railroads that use Penn Station - Amtrak, the LIRR and New Jersey Transit - are reducing service at peak periods during the repairs, which are expected to last until the end of August.

Officials say there are many alternatives. The LIRR will allow commuters to board larger trains, ferry and bus service, and a combination of rail and subway. New Jersey Transit is offering a similar plan, while Amtrak has also modified its daily train schedules.

Governor Cuomo announced that ahead of the repair work, all non-emergency construction is suspended from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. and all lanes are open on major roadways in the New York City area, in an effort to assist with LIRR bus service.

On Monday, Amtrak's infrastructure renewal began in the spaghetti junction of tracks and switches in what's known as "A-Interlocking."
Penn Station handles more than 650,000 commuter rail and Amtrak passengers each day. The passengers come through seven tunnels - the rail lines then switch to 21 platforms.

The long-overdue repair work takes out three to five tracks at a time in the A-Interlocking section, a critical switching area used by Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and the LIRR.
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Lucy Yang and Sandra Bookman report.

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(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Related Topics:
trafficmass transitpenn stationpenn station repairslirrNew York CityNew Jersey
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