Monday, January 18, 2016

Pennsylvania Station

Executive summary by darmansjah

Pennsylvania Station, also known as New York Penn Station or just Penn Station, is a major intercity train station and a major commuter rail hub in New York City. Serving 430,000 passengers a day  (compared to 700,000 across town at Grand Central Terminal) at a rate of up to a thousand every 90 seconds, it is one of the busiest passenger transportation facilities in the United States and in North America.

The station is located in the underground levels of Pennsylvania Plaza, an urban complex between Seventh Avenue and Eighth Avenue and between 31st and 33rd Streets in Midtown Manhattan. It is located underneath Madison Square Garden and lies in proximity to other Manhattan landmarks, including the Empire State Building, Koreatown, and Macy's at Herald Square.

Penn Station is at the center of the Northeast Corridor, an electrified passenger rail line extending southward from the New York metropolitan area to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. and northward to Boston. Intercity trains are operated by Amtrak which owns the entire station, while commuter rail services are operated by the Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit. The station has twenty-one tracks fed by six tunnels,

Penn Station saw 8.4 million Amtrak passenger arrivals and departures in 2010, about double the traffic at the next busiest station, Union Station in Washington, D.C. Penn Station's assigned IATA airport code is ZYP. Its Amtrak and NJ Transit station code is NYP.

Connections are available within the complex to two stations of the New York City Subway, and to many bus services at street level. The two subway stations are at opposite ends of the complex (Eighth Avenue Line & Seventh Avenue Line) and otherwise unconnected.

The current Penn Station is situated completely underground and is located underneath Madison Square Garden, 33rd Street, and Two Penn Plaza. The station spans three levels underground with the concourses located on the upper two levels with the train platforms located on the lowest level. The two levels of concourses, while original to the 1910 station, were extensively renovated during the construction of Madison Square Garden, and expanded in subsequent decades. The tracks and platforms are also largely original, except for some work connecting the station to the West Side Rail Yard and the Amtrak Empire Corridor serving Albany and Buffalo, New York.

Unlike most train stations, Penn Station does not have a unified design or floor plan but rather is divided into separate Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit concourses with each concourse maintained and styled differently by its respective operator. Amtrak and NJ Transit concourses are located on the first level below the street-level while the Long Island Rail Road concourse is two levels below street-level. The NJ Transit concourse near Seventh Avenue is the newest and opened in 2002 out of existing retail and Amtrak backoffice space. A new entrance to this concourse from West 31st Street opened in September 2009. Previously, NJ Transit shared space with the Amtrak concourse. The main LIRR concourse runs below West 33rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. Significant renovations were made to this concourse over a three-year period ending in 1994, including the addition of a new entry pavilion on 34th street. The LIRR's West End Concourse, west of Eighth Avenue, opened in 1986. The Amtrak concourse, the largest in the station and originally built for the Pennsylvania Railroad maintain the original 1960s styling and have not been renovated since the new Penn Station was built.

Tracks 1–4 are used by NJ Transit, and tracks 5–12 are used by Amtrak and NJ Transit trains. The LIRR has the exclusive use of tracks 17–21 on the north side of the station and shares tracks 13–16 with Amtrak and NJ Transit.

As of April 3, 2011 the public timetables show 212 weekday LIRR departures, 164 weekday NJ Transit departures, 51 Amtrak departures west to New Jersey and beyond (plus the triweekly Cardinal), 13 Amtrak departures north up the Hudson, and 21 Amtrak departures eastward.

In the 1990s, the current Pennsylvania Station was renovated by Amtrak, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and New Jersey Transit, to improve the appearance of the waiting and concession areas, sharpen the station information systems (audio and visual) and remove much of the grime. Recalling the erstwhile grandeur of the bygone Penn Station, an old four-sided clock from the original depot was installed at the 34th Street Long Island Rail Road entrance. The walkway from that entrance's escalator also has a mural depicting elements of the old Penn Station's architecture.

After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, passenger flow through the Penn Station Complex was curtailed. The taxiway under Madison Square Garden, which ran from 31st Street north to 33rd Street half way between 7th and 8th Avenues, was closed off with concrete Jersey barriers. A covered walkway from the taxiway was constructed to guide arriving passengers to a new taxi-stand on 31st Street.

Despite the improvements, Penn Station continues to be criticized as a low-ceilinged "catacomb" lacking charm, especially when compared to New York's much larger and ornate Grand Central Terminal.The New York Times, in a November 2007 editorial supporting development of an enlarged railroad terminal, said that "Amtrak's beleaguered scurry through underground rooms bereft of light or character." Times transit reporter Michael M. Grynbaum later called Penn Station "the ugly stepchild of the city’s two great rail terminals.

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