Improvements to White Plains, Port Chester, Crestwood train stations and the Croton-Harmon Railyards among others were outlined by Metro-North’s new President Catherine Rinaldi who was the guest speaker Thursday at the Business Council of Westchester’s latest Political Leadership Series presentation.
During the program, co-sponsored by the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, Rinaldi said that 10 of 20 stations now undergoing improvements as part of Metro-North’s 2015-19 capital plan were in Westchester. In addition to the major capital projects and station improvements, the railroad has been concentrating on regular maintenance and repairs to enhance the safety and reliability of the railroad. She said Metro-North would continue that emphasis in its 2020-2024 capital plan.
“We will focus on how much goes to the state of general repair so we can use this as a platform for growth,’’ she said.
In addition to enhancements to Westchester’s Metro-North stations, Rinaldi said the railroad was in the midst of overhauling its communications systems, which she described as “old, clunky and not very effective.” Among improvements planned are new real-time electronic signage that can keep commuters apprised of arrival and departure times, installation of close-circuit television (CCTV), enhanced WiFi service and improved public address systems.
Rinaldi said that other planned improvements, while not physically in Westchester, would have a big impact on county residents, such as modernization of the Park Avenue Viaduct which caught fire last summer stopping traffic in and out of Grand Central Terminal. And the big news – a change to the “Big Board” in Grand Central Terminal, which while iconic was not always the most effective way to communicate with commuters, she said.
She said the railroad was working on improving access to Penn Station, which she said would ultimately open up capacity at Grand Central Terminal, as well as along the Long Island Railroad. Plans to coordinate with ferry services, Uber, Lyft and other car services would also make commuting easier for riders trying to get to and from the train.
Rinaldi outlined $136 million in improvements for Westchester including:
- $442 million to replace the Croton-Harmon shops and railway yards.
- A $94 million Transit Oriented Development renovation of the White Plains train station, the third most-used station behind Grand Central and Stamford. Rinaldi said the entrances on the south end of the station closed last week will reopen this fall to coincide with the start of the Hudson Link bus system across the new Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.
- Upgrades to train stations in Port Chester, Rye, Harrison, Mamaroneck, Larchmont, New Rochelle, Pelham, Mount Vernon East, Tarrytown and Ossining.
In answer to a question about grade-crossing safety, Rinaldi said that the railroad has launched an ambitious education program with driving schools, bus companies and public schools. She said Metro-North has also been pushing for state legislation to install cameras at railroad crossings, which she said would do a lot to raise awareness about safety issues.
“It was standing room only at the presentation,’’ said John Ravitz, Vice President and COO of the Business Council of Westchester. “Clearly this was an issue of great importance to our membership and we thank Cathy Rinaldi for taking the time to speak with us.’’
Photo caption, left to right: John Ravitz, BCW Vice President and COO; Marsha Gordon, BCW President and CEO; Catherine Rinaldi, Metro-North President; Richard Haggerty, Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors CEO.