Officials hope Penn Station redesign will help improve safety for commuters

Lauren Glassberg Image
Wednesday, August 3, 2022 11:20PM
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Take a behind-the-scenes look at the immediate changes that will make Penn Station nicer and safer to walk through. Lauren Glassberg has the story.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Things are looking up at Penn Station as some ceilings will be lifted almost three times higher and MTA police hope the improvements will make commuters feel more safe.

The stores that once lined the corridor in Penn Station have been demolished to make way for a wider pathway for commuters.

The new concourse will be almost double the width of the previous hall and ceilings will be raised from around 6 feet 8 inches to almost 18 feet.

But higher ceilings and a wider concourse are only part of the transformation, making commuters feel safer is a top priority.

Chief John Mueller knows if commuters don't feel safe they'll avoid Penn Station where the biggest issues tend to be homelessness, open drug use and mental illness.

Mueller is the new MTA police chief by way of Yonkers. He says the issues underground tend to be about quality of life and he wants his team to be accessible and agile.

"When there is an issue that rises up, they're all over it, and when they're attentive to detail and they're very quick to respond, the problems don't get out of hand," he said.

And since late March, there's been a 70% drop in quality of life offenses.

Earlier this week, the MTA unveiled the first section of the new 18-foot ceiling at Penn Station's Long Island Rail Road Concourse. The so-called "head knocker" beams were removed from the ceilings in the halls on the west side of the 33rd Street corridor.

MTA Chair Janno Lieber previously said it's just one more step to improving Penn Station for commuters.

"During the pandemic, we started the process of fixing Penn by opening the major new entrance at 33rd Street and Moynihan Train Hall," he said. "Now, customers are getting a glimpse of what, when finished, will be a completely transformed and expanded LIRR Concourse at Penn Station."

The LIRR Concourse will be completed by March 2023.

RELATED | MTA unveils 1st section of new ceilings at Penn Station's LIRR Concourse

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