By Hilary Russ
NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo urged transit officials on Monday to discount fares for some Long Island commuters because of disruptions planned during Amtrak’s summer repair program at Pennsylvania Station, the busiest U.S. train hub.
Amtrak’s push to repair Penn Station’s infrastructure from July 10 through Sept. 1 will take three key tracks out of service and disrupt commutes across the region. New Jersey Transit Corp and the Long Island Rail Road both rent space and tracks from Amtrak.
“I think the Long Island Rail Road should consider reducing the fares on those diverted trains,” Cuomo said on Monday. “That’s only fair to the people who are taking those trains.”
New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the LIRR, said last week that at least 9,600 customers would be diverted or otherwise affected each morning during the repairs.
While officials said they would add hundreds of buses and other service alternatives, they said they were not planning to discount fares as NJ Transit is doing.
Cuomo made his comments as he marked the opening of a new West End Concourse underneath what is slated to become the Moynihan Train Hall, a $1.6 billion project to transform the James A. Farley Post Office Building across Eighth Avenue from Penn Station into a waiting area for the LIRR and Amtrak.
The concourse officially opened last week. On Friday, Cuomo said the financial agreement had closed between the state’s development arm and builders Related Cos, Vornado Realty LP and Skanska AB.
The private developers are putting up $630 million, with $230 million of the total transferred to the state last week as an upfront payment and annual payments for the remaining $400 million to come during the next 40 years.
The state will contribute $500 million in appropriations. Of the remaining $420 million, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will pay $150 million, Amtrak will pay $105 million, the MTA will pay $100 million, and a federal grant will cover $65 million.
(Reporting by Hilary Russ in New York; Additional reporting and editing by Daniel Bases; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)