Earlier this week, MTA officials lifted the curtain on the refreshed Long Island Rail Road Concourse at Penn Station. The concourse, which stretches from Seventh Avenue near the 1/2/3 subway to Eighth Avenue near the A/C/E subway, has nearly doubled in width from 30 feet to 57 feet and now features 30-foot ceilings as opposed to 18 feet before. Likewise, the MTA has added programmable color changing LED ceiling lights to the corridor.

"Penn Station isn't just the busiest transit hub in North America, it is also the beating heart of New York City, and for too long it hasn't provided an experience worthy of New Yorkers," Governor Kathy Hochul in a news release. "Today, we're raising the roof on Penn Station — literally and figuratively - and paving the way for a better future as we unveil a wider, brighter Long Island Rail Road concourse. We're one step closer to making Penn a world-class transit hub and making New York an even more livable, and lovable, city." 

Roughly half of the 600,000 daily users of Penn Station pass through the Long Island Rail Road concourse, including most of the station's 200,000 daily LIRR passengers. The full slate of upgrades, which also includes new mechanical systems, wayfinding, and retail, is scheduled for completion in early 2023.

Here's what we're reading this week:

MTA prepares to phase out MetroCard machines in move to OMNY "By the end of 2023, the brightly colored machines, reminiscent of kindergarten toys, will go the way of the subway token." (CBS)

Why Hell’s Kitchen Subway Station Was Never Built "Regarding calls for a Hell’s Kitchen subway station, what the public, transit riders, transit advocacy groups, transit reporters and current generation of public officials are unaware of is MTA’s senior management decision when the project was in the planning stage several years prior to 2007. They instructed staff deliberately not to follow the federal National Environmental Protection Act process. This was one of many requirements necessary to enter the Federal Transit Administration’s national competitive discretionary Capital Investment Grant (CIG) New Starts Core Capacity program." (Our Town)

New York housing agency to crack down on rent-regulated, 'Frankenstein' loophole "A state agency is looking to crack down on a loophole in New York state law that has allowed landlords of rent-regulated apartments to combine units and dramatically increase the rent — a legal workaround that regulators have been aware of for more than two years." (Gothamist)

New York lifts mask mandate on public transit "Masks are no longer required on public transportation in New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday. During a press conference in Harlem, the governor said masks are now optional for riders traveling on New York City’s subways and buses, as well as MetroNorth and Long Island Rail Road. The state’s mandate has been in place since April 2020 at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic." (6sqft)

New York City Commuters Are The Most Stressed In The U.S. "According to Big Apple city planners, commuters make up 20% of NYC’s workforce, coming out to more than a million people entering the city for work each day. Of those million, 600,000 of them spend more than 90 minutes on their commute, reports census data." (Secret NYC)