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Commuters Root For Metro-North Expansion Plan

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(credit: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

(credit: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYOrk) — A plan that could bring Metro-North service and thousands of commuters to Penn Station is pitting commuters against Long Island Railroad advocates.

Co-op city resident Mark Vargas can’t even talk about his daily commute to Manhattan without getting aggravated.

“You got to take the bus to the train and it’s kind of difficult when it’s kind of cold,” he told CBS 2’s Ann Mercogliano. “It’s nice to have another option.”

Vargas is rooting for a plan that would build a Metro-North station not far from where he lives and bring some Metro-North trains into Penn Station.

“I’m all for it, anything that gets us quicker to work,” he said.

It’s part of the Penn Station Access Study. Some of the study’s highlights include the Metro-North joining the LIRR, Amtrak and NJ Transit in sharing 21 existing tracks at Penn Station and construction of new stations, including four in the Bronx and two on Manhattan’s West Side – all at a cost of $1.2 billion.

It’s a study that’s been in the works for years, but seems to be gaining momentum.

MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota claims it’s on his radar, saying “I think the opportunity to view the MTA as one MTA…it’s a great goal to have, so I’m going to look at it.”

While many commuters told us they’d like to see this go ahead, advocates of the LIRR say they’re not so sure a plan like that could work.

“The Long Island Railroad is at maximum capacity at Penn Station. There’s no room to fit any additional trains in there,” said Gerry Bringmann of the LIRR Commuter Council.

While advocates are gearing up for East Side access into Grand Central Terminal, they fear adding another train service to Penn Station still won’t add up, even when that project is completed.

“Penn Station is maxed out,” said Bringman.

MTA officials admit the plan is controversial, but say the study is not off the table.

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