MANHATTAN (PIX11) — Emily Ladau relies on rail service to visit her family on Long Island. She used a wheelchair and said getting to the train platform at Penn Station was always a challenge.
“My options for entrances were limited. There is an elevator at 34th Street and Seventh Avenue, and that was pretty much where I was able to go,” said Ladau.
Everyone has a new option now.
The entrance on 32nd Street and Seventh Avenue is no longer off-limits. Amtrak has reopened it after giving it a major facelift, including installing an elevator for the first time.
“An elevator is what enables me to get from point A to point B, and without it, I would be trapped. So, for me, it’s a source of freedom,” said Ladau.
The rail company partnered with Vornado Realty Trust to expand and rebuild the entrance, replacing two escalators there since the 1960s with three new high-grade escalators. They can handle the more than 600,000 passengers visiting Penn Station daily.
“This isn’t just any entrance to any station. It’s the busiest entrance to the busiest train station in North America,” said Barry Langer of Vornado Realty Trust.
A new glass canopy brings natural light and air to the concourse. The changes are part of a $300 million improvement plan Amtrak has been implementing at Penn in recent years.
“We have been working to make this facility better, piece by piece. It’s not the end, but it certainly is a beginning,” said Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner.
This is a beginning that also helps kick off the holiday travel season. The new entrance is ready for passengers visiting family and friends, shopping, or reaching their vacation destinations.
“Yes, well worth it. It’s beautiful and very great,” said one passenger.