Federal Lawmakers From NY, NJ Call For Funding To Alleviate Chaos At Penn Station

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — For weeks Penn Station commuters have faced crowds and delays, now riders want change.

Last week New Jersey Senators Cory Booker, and Bob Menendez spoke out. On Monday, New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand weighed in.

It’s chaos for rail riders who must travel through Penn Station.

Leaking ceilings, switch and signal problems — even derailments — put passengers in danger, and prevent them from getting where they need to go.

“Somebody needs to step in. If the federal government isn’t going to make the changes, and it seems they are not, somebody else has to,” one rider told CBS2’s Emily Smith.

“It’s madness, the money we pay — my ticket is $400. We experience delays now and there isn’t even construction,” another rider said.

CBS2 has asked elected leaders how to end the nightmare.

Most agree it’s a frightening and eye-opening situation that’s been neglected for decades, and are calling for major repairs.

Governor Cuomo said it’s all owned by the federal government, with Amtrak acting as the landlord.

Commuters’ best bet for real changes lies in the hands of four U.S. Senators representing New York and New Jersey.

On Monday, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer spoke with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

“This is disgraceful. Everyone’s pointing fingers — Amtrak, MTA, NJ TRANSIT. They have been cut in terms of state of good repair dollars over the last ten years from Washington. Sometimes they know a problem. When that rail split that caused the four day backup, it was on their list to fix. They didn’t have personnel or repairs. The first the we are going to do is get them the money,” he said.

CBS2 spoke with Senator Gilibrand as well.

And Booker responded to the issues last week.

“What’s going on, is outrageous,” he said.

One idea that some lawmakers have is turning ownership over to a private entity. Senator Menendez doesn’t support that because a private owner would want to make money.

Senator Gillibrand had something to say about that.

“We have to make this investment, and what’s been happening in Washington is they have been too cheap and the lack of funding has come home to roost, so we need to fund the rail lines,” she said.

Commuters experienced four days in a row of massive delays in May with crowds so out of control police had to shut down the entrance to the Long Island Rail Road at 34th Street and 7th Avenue.

“It gets really crowded. The bodies keep pouring in and the trains aren’t leaving. It stinks,” one rider said.

“I am waiting for a revolt. I really think riders at some point will not show tickets or not pay,” another added.

Some repairs will begin in July, but things are expected to get worse before they get better.

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