MANHATTAN, New York (WABC) -- A local congressman is calling Penn Station in New York City a "dangerous dungeon" and calling on other state leaders to fix the problem.
"There's people here, women, children going up the escalator, they're nervous, they're scared," LIRR rider Andrew Addeo said.
The people who use Penn Station say it's not what it used to be -- that it's actually worse.
"You got some crazies around here, the homeless are all over the place. You know, you got to watch yourself," LIRR rider Braxton Reed said.
On Wednesday morning, Congressman Tom Suozzi held a news conference to say he agrees.
"This is a scary place right now. And these problems need to be addressed," Suozzi said.
Suozzi, who is running for governor, blamed the state-controlled MTA for failing to protect riders as the Long Island Railroad concourse undergoes a $500 million renovation.
He insists that it has become a dingy dungeon of the homeless and mentally ill. Even the news conference was held under the watchful eyes of two MTA police officers.
"I think it's much worse. I've been coming here for decades. It's never been this bad," Suozzi said. "I came here the other day. I, personally, was scared. I know people that say they will not come into the city for dinner, or for a show, because they're scared to come."
The MTA's reaction was swift.
"Though it may come a little late, the MTA is glad that Congressman Suozzi supports fixing Penn Station and has now joined the MTA's repeated calls for the city of New York to give more attention to policing the area around Penn and to assign more mental health and homeless services professionals to the station."
MTA officials insist this is all temporary and that it won't be like this forever. But security here has become a legitimate concern.
Gerard Bringmann is president of the LIRR Commuter Council.
"Some of our commuters actually feel unsafe," Bringmann said. "We're trying to get ridership back we're at about 50% of our pre-pandemic ridership level. We need to get riders back and riders are not going to come back if they don't feel safe."
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