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Business, Government and Community Leaders and Riders' Advocates React to Wider, Higher, Brighter LIRR Concourse at Penn Station

Long Island Rail Road
Updated September 6, 2022 4:45 p.m.
Penn Concourse Quotes

Following the unveiling by Governor Kathy Hochul and MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber of a wider, higher, brighter LIRR concourse at Penn Station, business, government and community leaders, and riders' advocates across Long Island offered reactions:

State Senator Anna M. Kaplan said: “For too long, Penn Station has been a cramped nightmare, and a source of unending dread for every Long Island commuter forced to pass through it. Today’s announcement is another step forward to finally giving us the world class station that we deserve, and I’m grateful that Governor Hochul is continuing to push forward on the plan for an entirely new Penn Station.”

State Senator Kevin Thomas said: “The much-needed updates and improvements to the LIRR Concourse at Penn Station will greatly benefit Long Islanders who commute to New York City. I applaud Governor Hochul’s commitment to making these significant investments, improving the outdated infrastructure and making travel on the LIRR a more enjoyable experience for all."

Gerard Bringmann, Chair of the LIRR Commuter Council and MTA Board Member said: “We're seeing a better version of Penn Station than we've seen before — and with these improvements, it's well on its way to becoming the train station commuters deserve. With weekday ridership still nearly 40% below pre-pandemic levels, it’s important that the MTA does everything possible to get more riders back on board. That means improving the overall experience of taking transit, including with better amenities, safer and more pleasant stations, continued fare discount programs, and more reliable and frequent service. With higher ceilings, brighter lighting, and new digital schedule boards, Penn Station is well on its way to finally becoming “more fit for humans than rodents,” as MTA Chair Janno Lieber said, and is a welcome change for millions of commuters, tourists, and riders who have waited decades for a more enjoyable Penn Station. Better wayfinding is a major benefit of this upgrade, with more readable real time digital signage that will help riders more easily see their trains and tracks. A better Penn Station—one of many major LIRR upgrades coming our way this year— will help prove that riders made the right choice by choosing transit and encourage even more people from Long Island to New Jersey to get back on board.”

Dave Kapell, Executive Director, Right Track for Long Island Coalition said: “Long Island’s economy depends on good transportation. With travel to the Island becoming a lot easier thanks to the construction of a new Main Line Third Track, it’s now also becoming more pleasant thanks to the improved surroundings at Penn Station. A good train trip depends on good experience from start to end, and for most LIRR riders, that means Penn Station, so this new concourse will greatly improve the experience of riding the LIRR.”

Kyle Strober, Executive Director, Association for a Better Long Island said: "The Governor is engaged in what can only be described as an historic effort to rebuild and revive Penn Station into something that commuters, travelers and all New Yorkers can be proud of. The region will reap the benefits for literally generations to come.  It is critical that Penn Station be modernized and reconfigured efficiently so that it can accommodate the needs of a 21st Century city that needs to remain the economic capital of the world. Long Islanders will obviously benefit from this project but so too will our shared future as New Yorkers.”

Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City said: “LIRR commuters have yet another reason to return to the office, with this station they can be proud of and enjoy traversing. Congratulations to Governor Hochul for keeping the momentum of improvements in rail services going!”

Long Island Association President & CEO Matt Cohen said: “The completed upgrades to the LIRR concourse are a great step forward towards transforming Penn Station into a welcoming and vibrant destination so critical to the regional economy, and I applaud Governor Hochul, MTA Chair and CEO Lieber, and LIRR Interim President Rinaldi for getting it done.”

Tom Wright, President and CEO of the Regional Plan Association, said: "A safer, more unified, and more accessible Penn Station is a vital element of a regional transportation system that is more resilient, equitable, and environmentally sustainable. The widening of the Long Island Rail Road Concourse marks another critical improvement for the LIRR, alongside the completion of the Third Track and the opening of Grand Central Madison later this year. These projects will improve our system just as New Yorkers are returning to the city and we continue to recover from COVID. We look forward to continuing to work with the MTA and all other Penn Station partners to continue to advance the renovation and expansion of Penn Station and the Gateway Program in the years to come."