MIDTOWN — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has asked the president to provide federal funding for repairs taking place at Penn Station this summer, comparing the current situation at the transit hub to a “natural disaster” that will wreak havoc on commuters and businesses.
In a letter addressed to President Donald Trump on Sunday, Cuomo said that recent train derailments and delays at the station should be treated as an “emergency situation.”
“I request that the federal government treat this as an emergency situation and provide funding for the short-term Penn construction and transportation alternatives and facilitation of a long-term resolution for Penn Station,” he wrote in the letter.
Transit issues at the station are a bipartisan issue, he added.
“While this is not a hurricane or flood, it will affect as many people and businesses with dire consequences,” Cuomo wrote. “Like a natural disaster, we didn't create it, but our public offices require we address it.”
In a joint statement Monday, members of the New York Congressional Delegation — including Congressman Jerrold Nadler and the city's only Republican congressman, Rep. Dan Donovan — signed off on Cuomo's request for funding.
Amtrak plans to carry out infrastructure work at the station for about six weeks this summer and may reroute some of its trains to Grand Central, but the rail service’s efforts will result in a “summer of agony” for thousands of commuters, Cuomo said in the letter.
He also doubled down on his calls for Amtrak to step aside and let the Port Authority or a private operator run Penn Station instead.
“... [A]ll the past experience has suggested that Amtrak does not have the funds and expertise to consistently invest and manage over the long-term Penn Station’s complex combination of track infrastructure and terminal operation,” he wrote.
“I know that you believe in privatization where appropriate and in this situation I think there is no doubt that it is appropriate.”
Cuomo’s letter came a few days after Sen. Chuck Schumer sent his own letter asking Amtrak and the MTA to outline their plans to repair the East River Tunnels, which were damaged during Hurricane Sandy.
Schumer secured $432 million in funding to repair the tunnels, but said he was "acutely concerned about the speedy and effective use of these funds" by the two agencies.
“Allowing what is already a bad situation to further degrade will result in more delays, even greater inconvenience for commuters, and could shut down the already overloaded Penn Station,” Schumer wrote.
Amtrak didn't immediately respond to request for comment Monday.