Readers Write: You can’t sit or eat art work

Readers Write: You can’t sit or eat art work
It has been almost one year since the Long Island Rail Road began full-time East Side Access service to the $11.6. billion Grand Central Madison.
How disappointing that MTA Arts & Design just announced that they are presenting a selection of works from photographer Stephen Wilkes’ “Day to Night” series of famous New York landmarks at this facility.  Is this the best MTA can do?  
Grand Central Madison has only two men’s bathrooms with a total of 18 urinals and 13 toilets, two women’s bathrooms with a total of 25 toilets, one lactation room, and two gender-neutral bathrooms each with a single capacity all located on the Madison Concourse. There are none on the lower or upper-level platforms and mezzanine.
There is still only one waiting room located on the Madison Concourse. It has only 29 seats and seven stools for Wi-Fi connections to serve riders. There are no other seating options on the platform and mezzanine levels while waiting.
Options for recycling newspapers or beverage containers, and disposal of garbage or other waste continue to be non-existent except for a handful of garbage cans at the platform level.  There are few options to dispose of waste at either the mezzanine or Madison concourse levels. This conflicts with MTA’s claim to be environmentally friendly.
There are still no open newsstands. These services are readily available in Metro North Rail Road Grand Central Terminal, Penn and Jamaica Stations.
There are 11 Ticket Vending Machines still waiting to be installed. It appears that the designed space is not wide enough to accommodate standard LIRR TVM’s.
All the facility storefronts still stand vacant.  This is a sad commentary on MTA Chairman Janno Lieber, MTA Office of Capital Construction and MTA Real Estate in the management of the LIRR ESA GCM project.
The original completion date was 2011. Full-time service began in February 2023. MTA Real Estate had years to find tenants for the 32 vacant storefronts.  MTA Real Estate has yet to issue a Request for Proposals to find a master tenant to manage all 32 vacant storefronts.
We may have to wait another year before all 32 storefronts are open for business. Commuters will continue looking at the artwork covering up the vacant storefronts. 
Commuters and taxpayers have to ask when will the other vacant storefronts at other NYC Transit, Long Island and Metro North Rail Road stations be leased.  MTA Chairman Lieber would have been better off releasing an RFP to hire a private real estate management firm.
They could do a better job than MTA Real Estate in the timely leasing all of these assets. It would generate badly needed revenue and provide riders with basic amenities.
Larry Penner
Great  Neck
Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously served as a former Director for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office of Operations and Program Management.  

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