Fixing Penn Station: Necessary for a Low-Carbon Future

Why Penn Station and the Gateway Project need Federal Funding

Last week, NYLCV joined an influential roster of civic groups in writing a letter to Amtrak and USDOT regarding the current state of Penn Station. From trains derailing to sewage leaks, the outdated station has demonstrated that it is not equipped to handle the 600,000 passengers that flow through its doors each day. Although Amtrak has devoted resources to repair several tracks this summer, it likely will not be enough to address Penn Station’s long-term problems. Governor Cuomo has also joined the fray, writing a letter to President Trump requesting federal assistance with renovating Penn Station.

If Penn Station remains in its current state of disrepair, many commuters may opt for modes of transport with greater carbon footprints that also emit higher amounts of particulate matter. This would increase the number of cars and buses on the road and would result in congestion problems with many idling vehicles. Annually, trains in New York City are responsible for reducing nearly 17 million metric tons of carbon dioxide by providing a lower-carbon transportation alternative to cars and buses. Even worse, because of the state of Penn Station, passengers may opt to fly instead of taking the train, which has the greatest carbon footprint of any mode of transportation. Ultimately, if funding is not allocated to renovate Penn Station, the environmental impacts will be disastrous as commuters will opt to take more carbon-intensive modes of transportation into the city.

Similarly, adequate funding for the Gateway Project is necessary for maintaining New York City’s economy. The Gateway project would replace the century-old North River Tunnel, which 200,000 riders depend on daily and which suffered major damages as a result of Super Storm Sandy. Without the Gateway Tunnel, there would be massive economic implications for the region and the country. According to John Porcari, the Gateway Development Corporation’s interim executive director, 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product would be lost if the tunnel is not completed.

Because Amtrak owns and operates Penn Station, they are primarily responsible for repairs, but still the state of New York has pledged $29 billion to go towards the project. However, this still is not enough. Aid from the federal government is desperately needed in order to improve the conditions of Penn Station and thereby keep carbon emissions low.

Nationwide, New York State has the lowest energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions per capita, but without a fully-functioning Penn Station that all may change. In order to provide cleaner, safer transportation for commuters, the project needs to be a priority and proper funding must be allocated.