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Metro North "Access" Could Fill Void In East Bronx

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Some residents of the Bronx could benefit from the MTA's plan to reroute some Metro North trains running through the borough. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.

For people who live along East Tremont Avenue in Parkchester it's not easy getting to the subway.

"You have the number 6 line, which is a local, but that's all the way at the end of Parkchester and then all the way over at 180th Street and Morris Park you have the number 2 and the number 5," said one Bronx resident.

But help may be on the way for them and others caught between subway lines, compliments of Metro North.

The rail line wants to open four new stations along a current Amtrak line as part of its new Penn Station Access plan. That could cut subway-deprived commuters' travel time to Manhattan down to as little as 20 minutes, while giving thousands of reverse commuters easier access to points north.

"We currently carry about 13,000 people a day out of the Bronx every week. In the morning we have between five and six thousand people who get on our trains in the Bronx every morning who travel every day to jobs in the northern suburbs," said Metro North Vice President of Planning Robert MacLagger.

The plan is also being lauded as a potential boost to the local economy.

"If somebody in Connecticut wants to open up a business or wants to come and look for opportunities in New York City we want them to come in," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Junior.

The project is still very much in its infancy. It's not yet funded and it's competing for money with other projects.

"When you compare it to the Second Avenue subway line, when you compare it to the extension of the 7 line, when you compare it to other transportation efforts that are going on throughout the city and the state this is but a mere drop in the bucket," Diaz Jr. said.

Metro North says its plans to use existing tracks would minimize costs. But the project also depends on the completion of the Long Island Railroad's East Side Access project that would run those trains into a new station at Grand Central Terminal.

"It creates the opportunity that you might be able to free up enough capacity to run Metro North trains off the New Haven line into Penn Station," MacLagger noted.

The Long Island Rail Road is scheduled to start running trains into Grand Central in 2019. If the funding comes through, Metro North's Penn Station Access could begin around the same time.

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