Wednesday, May 24, 2017

N.Y. Gov. Cuomo outlines Penn Station action plan

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N.Y. Gov. Cuomo outlines Penn Station action plan Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined an action plan to help New York transit riders deal with the impending work Amtrak is planning at Penn Station during the summer.

The Amtrak proposed repairs would reduce the number of trains at Penn Station by approximately 20 percent, leaving commuters to find transportation alternatives that Gov. Cuomo anticipates will overburden the region's subway system, roads and bridges.

Gov. Cuomo is focusing on three elements of what he calls an aggressive plan:

  • Develop an immediate plan for the Penn Station summer crisis
  • Recommend viable long-term management solution for Penn Station and turning it into a 21st century transit hub with Farley Train Hall and the Gateway Tunnel
  • Challenge Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to modernize the New York City subway system and increase the number of trains at peak periods to relieve crowding and reduce delays

Penn Station handles 600,000 travelers per workday, which is triple the facility's capacity. The governor says addressing Penn Station in a comprehensive manner is the first step to resolving New York's transportation challenges and is establishing a Task Force composed of leading transportation experts and stakeholders to develop both short-term transit solution, as well as long-term systemic changes. Additionally, Gov. Cuomo is proposing "The MTA Genius Transit Challenge," a competition to reimagine the solutions to the systemic challenges with the subway system.

"The intolerable state of disrepair in Penn Station and its ripple effect of delays and dysfunction throughout the subway system have reached a breaking point, and we must enact this comprehensive action plan now to find both short and long term solutions to these growing challenges, upgrade outdated infrastructure and meet the needs of current and future generations of New Yorkers," Gov. Cuomo said. "This multi-pronged effort will address the chronic failures of the system and make critical, long overdue upgrades to ensure our system is of the highest caliber. After decades of neglect, it's time to seize the opportunity to make real changes to our transportation system."

The Task Force will focus on two areas. First, developing alternative transportation solutions to deal with the summer's Amtrak service cuts, including Park and Ride operations, amended restrictions for the LIE HOV lanes, high-speed Long Island ferries and privately owned express bus service.

Second, the Task Force will assess the viability of any proposed long-term management solution for Penn Station. Gov. Cuomo says this is an opportunity to enact a long-term strategic solution to the systemic issues plaguing Penn Station's physical plant and transit operations. He is proposing the Task Force consider three options that include New York State taking over Penn Station, having the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey taking over Penn Station and having Amtrak use a private contractor to operate the terminal.

The final element of Gov. Cuomo's plan proposes "The MTA Genius Transit Challenge." The international competition would seek groundbreaking and innovative solutions to increase the capacity and improve the reliability of New York City's subway service. During a conference in late June, all participants in the competition would be given comprehensive briefings on the transit system and will be challenged to find solutions that can be implemented with speed and efficiency. Competitors will be presented with the issues, current solutions and best practices. The competition would be judged by an expert panel of technology and transportation experts and a $1 million "Genius" award will be provided to the best ideas in three categories.

The MTA Genius Transit Challenge panelists will include:

  • Sarah Feinberg, Former Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration
  • Daniel Huttenlocher, Dean and Vice Provost, Cornell Tech
  • Charles Phillips, CEO, Infor
  • Kristina Johnson, Chancellor-elect, SUNY
  • Greg Brown, Chairman and CEO, Motorola Solutions
  • Nick Grossman, General Manager, Union Square Ventures
  • Eliot Horowitz, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, MongoDB
  • Balaji Prabhakhar, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Stanford University

Last week, the governor challenged the MTA to accelerate implementation of the $29.6 billion capital plan. In addition, the governor directed the MTA to implement a Six Point Plan designed to resolve immediate issues related to management structure, delays and overcrowding.

For more information on the Penn Station plan, click here. For more information on the Genius Challenge, click here.