Transportation committee approves GOP resolution seeking help from Congress as Amtrak drags feet on Penn Station improvements

Transportation committee approves GOP resolution seeking help from Congress as Amtrak drags feet on Penn Station improvements

Nancy F. Munoz

TRENTON, N.J. – The Assembly transportation committee approved a resolution urging Congress to examine Amtrak operations at New York Penn Station. The resolution (AR57) is sponsored by Assemblyman Rob Clifton and Assemblywomen Nancy Munoz and BettyLou DeCroce.

“It is bad enough that commuters are forced to contend with NJ Transit’s daily delays and cancellations, but those aggravations are compounded by Amtrak’s chronic mismanagement of Penn Station,” said Munoz (R-Union), a frequent critic of NJ Transit’s service to commuters.

“Amtrak has delayed doing anything for years if not decades and will soon close several tracks for weeks causing even more delays for commuters,” Munoz continued.

Rob Clifton

More than 1,000 commuter trains roll through New York Penn Station every week. Yet Amtrak, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation that owns the facility, continues to under-invest in necessary safety and operational improvements, and the commuter lines that pay for access are locked out of the decision-making process.

“The majority of passengers through the station are commuters on NJ Transit or Long Island Rail Road trains, yet Amtrak makes all the decisions,” said Munoz. “There’s nobody looking out for the commuters’ interests. The regional carriers pay handsomely for the right to the rails, but they don’t have a seat at the table.”

The resolution asks Congress to consider requiring Amtrak to include the commuter rail systems in decision making for the station.

“We can’t afford Amtrak dropping the ball when it comes to managing the country’s busiest train station,” said Clifton (R-Monmouth). “More than 10 million passengers ride the rails through Penn Station each year. Washington needs to make sure everything that should be done is being done to keep the trains moving on time and the passengers safe.”

BettyLou DeCroce

Penn Station’s problems date back to 1976. With more than 650 train movements each week, the station was already operating beyond its intended capacity and the volume was taking a toll on the infrastructure.

Today, the number of weekly trains has doubled to more than 1,300. Most are regional commuter trains. Amtrak’s own trains account for almost 300 weekly.

“Maintaining the station is a significant challenge complicated by the volume of trains, the age of the station, and decades of federal neglect,” said DeCroce (R-Morris). “It may take an act of Congress to force Amtrak to live up to its responsibilities to New Jersey commuters. That’s what this resolution is seeking.”