Pressure is mounting on Amtrak to give up control of Penn Station after a string of problems at the busy train hub. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
It hasn't been the best of months at the country's busiest train station.
Two derailments at Penn Station were followed by days of monumental delays. Then, a false report of gunshots triggered a stampede of panicked riders.
Now, calls are growing for Amtrak to give up control of the station, which it shares with the Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit.
"It seems to me that somebody's got to make sense out of Penn Station's utlization," said MTA board member Charles Moerdler. "If the federal government doesn't do it, perhaps it's time for New York to condemn the damn place."
On Monday, three MTA board members bashed Amtrak, saying the railroad isn't fit to manage or maintain a train station serving hundreds of thousands of passengers daily. And the LIRR's general counsel said the railroad is studying whether to take legal action against Amtrak.
"Just Amtrak saying, 'Well, we're going to do better maintaining it,' is, to me, a fallacy. They haven't done it yet, and I see no reason to believe the're going to do it now," said MTA board member Mitchell Pally.
The MTA oversees the LIRR, and the March 24 and April 4 derailments hit the railroad hard. Scores of trains were delayed or canceled when damaged tracks went out of service for repairs. The LIRR has exclusive use of just five of the station's 21 tracks.
"They do not maintain Penn Station properly, and I it is, I guess, for lack of a better word, stupidity, because it is the most important station for them, too," said MTA board member Ira Greenberg.
Amtrak has acknowledged that its inspectors were aware of a track flaw before that second derailment. It also says it remains chronically underfunded.
Amtrak dismissed Monday's complaints by MTA board members and the threat of legal action..
"Amtrak is hard at work every day maintaining Penn Station in the face of huge train volumes, aging infrastructure, decades of underinvestment and competing priorities within the terminal area. Talk of lawsuits or speculation about changing ownership isn't going to help solve these problems," a statement read.
But with more commuters projected to use the station in future years, Amtrak's top official has been warning of more problems ahead.