Both the State of New York, and its Metropolitan Transportation Authority, seem to be running out of patience with Amtrak. Today’s meeting of the MTA’s board, the morning after another messy evening commute, was filled with many board members angered by recent service disruptions. Board member Mitchell Pally, who is from Long Island, said that he was “running out of words to explain to current situation”. Interim Executive Director Ronnie Hakim followed up by saying that top brass from Amtrak and the MTA would be meeting the following day, Thursday April 27, to discuss the recent events at Penn Station, as well as Amtrak’s plans to make repairs. She emphasized the importance of having planners from all parties jointly schedule maintenance activity at the station, which is the nation’s busiest. Hakim also echoed Mr. Pally’s comments, saying “I think we’ve all run out of words”. However, despite comments made by board members in this week’s Long Island Rail Road committee meeting, Ms. Hakim and MTA Chairman Fernando Ferrer both flatly said in a press conference that the MTA had no interest in taking ownership of the station.
Later in the day, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also joined in on the attack against Amtrak. The governor said that the station is a “debacle”, and continued on to state that the neglect from Amtrak was “governmental malfeasance”. Cuomo also said that Amtrak was not keeping its partners “in the loop” about repairs, as well as other changes being made at the station. While criticizing Amtrak, Cuomo trumpeted New York’s infrastructure building projects, such as the plan to expand parts of Penn Station into the Farley Post Office. He concluded by saying that the federal railroad needed to “do its job”, and ensure the normal operations of commuter rail lines using the terminal.
It remains to be seen what deals can be made between the transportation agencies and state government, and how commuters will benefit.
Image: “LIRR Penn Station” by Daisuke FUJII is licensed under CC BY 2.0