In a thoughtful New York Times op-ed, Robert W. Previdi, a former New York City Transit executive, offers some excellent ideas for improving New York's dismal Penn Station. Signage that would actually serve people who aren't veteran commuters, integrated fare systems and better retail options would all be welcome changes to the current state of affairs.
But to truly make a dent in Penn Station's misery, and to revitalize the unpleasant area around the station, the transit hub will have to be rebuilt. The only way to do this is to relocate Madison Square Garden, an aging if beloved arena, to another site in Midtown. New signs and new stores will have little or no impact on the transit hub's severe overcrowding or its ability to cope with passenger growth in the coming years. And it will be difficult if not impossible for this underperforming area of Midtown to be revived aas long as the station at its core remains a grim and discouraging place.
Not too long ago, Midtown Manhattan was full of unwelcoming pockets. But as we have seen with the revitalization of Times Square, the High Line, the Hudson River waterfront and Grand Central Terminal, it doesn't have to be this way. Neighborhoods with appealing public spaces become magnets for residents and visitors. Our region can build the transit gateway it needs and foster economic development that will benefit all our residents for generations to come.