In less than a month, the "summer of hell" is set to begin at Penn Station. For nearly eight weeks, Amtrak, NJ Transit and the Long Island Rail Road will all be running with reduced service in and out of the transit hub as crews make emergency track repairs.
But this week, a glimmer of hope emerged for commuters who rely on the station: A new entrance on the west side of Eighth Avenue at the James A. Farley Post Office Building. The new entrance leads to the new West End Concourse, which is part of the first phase in a larger project that will turn the post office into Moynihan Station.
Commuters can now access a series of LIRR tracks at the concourse, and the corridor just past the entrance boasts a bit of natural light—something that's all but absent in Penn Station. The West End Concourse has better lighting than the rest of the station, and it even includes a series of LED screens on the ceiling that display a sky filled with clouds (it may be the closes the station will ever come to having natural light).
The new space doesn't solve the overall design woes that have plagued Penn for the last 50 years. While it does add a much-needed new entrance and a slightly larger waiting area for LIRR commuters, the concourse—and the overall expansion—is the latest in a run of shortsighted fixes to the nation's busiest transit hub.
Ample plans that have been floated to solve the deep-rooted issues at Penn Station, but, at the very least, the new concourse ought to make commuting through the midtown hellhole slightly less miserable.