NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Commuters and Sen. Chuck Schumer are delivering a strong message for Amtrak to step up and finish a crucial project.
Schumer is blaming the agency for delaying the Penn Station access plan, which would give Bronx and Westchester residents a direct route to Manhattan’s west side, reports CBS2’s Reena Roy.
“Amtrak has to be more flexible, has to not delay and step up to the plate,” said Schumer in a press conference Friday.
An agreement between Amtrak and the MTA would get the access plan off the ground once for and all.
“Amtrak, we just need you do the right thing,” said councilman Andy King. “Don’t play with money, with peoples’ lives, just do the right thing.”
Elected officials blaming the railroad for stalling the proposal that includes four new stops in the Bronx, plus one in New Rochelle using existing Amtrak tracks to give people a direct route to Penn Station via Metro-North, significantly reducing travel time.
“Just stop the delays and get it done,” said Shakeia Owens, a resident of Co-Op City in the Bronx. “People have things to do, jobs to get to – you know, just get it done.”
News Conference With Sen. Chuck Schumer On Amtrak Negotiations
Schumer says one of the main issues at hand is the Pelham Bay Bridge that Amtrak currently uses for its interstate trains.
“The bridge was built more than a century ago,” said Schumer. “That’s the biggest issue what are the plans for the Pelham Bay Bridge.”
Under this new project, additional trains would also travel on it. He says that means bridge repairs or a full replacement need to happen as soon as possible.
Access fees are another issue the senator raised, claiming Amtrak is charging the MTA too much to use its tracks.
“They’re asking a whole lot of money that would make this unfeasible,” said Schumer.
Neither the MTA nor Amtrak would say much except both agencies are currently in negotiations, and making progress in coming to a compromise.