Metro North expansion proposal

BRONX, N.Y. - Parkchester is one of the busiest neighborhoods in the Bronx, but as its population has grown mass transit options have not kept up.

It's considered a transit desert. Overcrowded buses and multiple subway transfers are the norm for commuters like Celina Gomez. 

"Sometimes I can’t even get on the bus or get on the 6 train. And I have to always use the MTA to my boss as an excuse, which gets overwhelming sometimes, which gets overwhelming because I take 3 trains to get to work," Gomez said.

She says a plan to add four Metro North stations in Hunts Point, Parkchester, Morris Park and Co-Op City would drastically improve her commute.

The state has allocated nearly $700 million for the project, but the work cannot begin until Amtrak gives the green light. 

"This is the classic game of Monopoly. They feel like we’re still back in the turn of the 20th century. This is not the day in age of the rail road robber barron’s and they need to get with the program," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. 

On Friday, the Bronx borough president joined city, state and Westchester county officials in calling for Amtrak to finally approve the project, saying it would shave commuting times and raise property values. 

The stations would be located on Amtrak's main line linking New York and Boston, allowing Bronx commuters easy access to Penn Station and Manhattan's West Side.

But the borough president says Amtrak wants the MTA, a state agency, to pay for more improvements to the line including work on a key bridge. 

"Metro North would be good. It would add money to the community and it would help everyone move around. It would be excellent. They shouldn’t block it. They should work with it and everybody will win," said one commuter.

"They should really reconsider and think about the good they’ll be doing for others and accommodate," said another commuter.

Amtrak tells NY1 it has met with the MTA repeatedly to ensure that the project would not affect Amtrak operations between Penn Station and Boston — service that's supposed to expand with the addition of new high-speed Acela trains in 2021.

Funding for the project is part of the MTA five-year spending plan. Officials want Amtrak to sign on before time runs out or construction costs go up.

Plans for the four stations were announced in 2014 and commuters are wondering how much longer they’ll have to wait.