Cuomo calls on Trump for federal help with Penn Station

Gov. Andrew Cuomo-viewed as one of the Democrats' leading 2020 presidential contenders-urged President Donald Trump today to either allocate huge sums of federal money toward emergency repairs and construction at Penn Station, or let New York State take over massive transit nexus from the Washington-run Amtrak.

Of the 600,000 riders who use Penn Station each day, 90 percent are from the commuter railroads that pay Amtrak to use its tracks. He also reiterated a previous request that a private-sector asset manager take control of at least the passenger-facing areas of the station from national passenger company Amtrak.

In his letter, Cuomo said he knew Trump believed in "privatization where appropriate".

LIRR President Pat Nowakowski said Monday they'll try to "maximize" service during the summer overhaul, but a number of peak-hour trains will be affected. The possibility of high speed ferries from Long Island is also being considered.

The 14-member task force, consisting of state representatives, officials from Suffolk and Nassau counties, and transit experts, would figure out how to move Long Island commuters to and from New York City as Amtrak implements highly impactful, peak-hour service outages to fix rail infrastructure at the complex, the governor said.

Perhaps no one has more to lose at Penn Station though than Amtrak itself. "It would be transformative for this state and for the Northeast region, and we could get it done for him and we could get it done in real time". This makes delays and congestion inevitable at Penn Station.

"I have referred to the station as reminding me of the Catacombs - claustrophobic, threatening and crumbling", wrote Cuomo, considered a likely contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. "We could build a state-of-the-art, secure, world-class transportation hub".

Trump's budget proposal includes a promise to launch a $1 trillion infrastructure plan, but it does not lay out specifics on what it will fund.

"I think it's kind of hard, because I don't know what else they would do".

Last year, the governor unveiled a plan for a new train hall (paywall) to replace Penn in the post-office building across the street.

But it would require $12 billion in federal funding.

"While this is not a hurricane or flood, it will affect as many people and businesses with dire consequences", Cuomo wrote in the letter.

"I request that the federal government treat this as an emergency situation and provide funding for the short-term Penn construction and transportation alternatives and facilitation of a long-term resolution for Penn Station", he added.

  • Zachary Reyes