My office enthusiastically supports expanding the availability of Metro-North Commuter Railroad services at the Melrose and Tremont stations in The Bronx, and I am proud to testify in favor of such an expansion here today.
Perhaps not since the 1920’s, when 536,000 people made their way to The Bronx for the first time, has the borough sustained as much investment and development as we see taking place today. Across all our communities business and residential growth are breaking records, with over $3 billion committed to The Bronx during 2016. Residential investment was approximately $1.7 billion, $1.3 billion was invested in commercial development and $228 million in institutional development.
Looking specifically at the communities which are served by the Melrose station, we know that during 2016 in Bronx Community Districts #3 and #4, approximately 1.6 million square feet of new development was created. In Bronx Community District #6, the Tremont station’s service area, 3.7 million square feet of new development was built.
Needless to say, this new development means more passengers wanting to reach more places. Ridership figures provided to my office by Metro-North support this observation, as the pilot program initiated by the railroad exceeded all ridership expectations.
Key to continuing this amazing growth is our ability to provide efficient and reliable transit services to The Bronx and our northern suburbs. We know that a substantial number of Bronx residents commute to Westchester County for employment.
By expanding access to Melrose and Tremont this will not only offer more convenient commuter rail options, but by so doing, reduce reliance on our over-burdened highway network. Select Bus Service (SBS) on Webster Avenue and the soon-to-be SBS on 161st Street connect to the Melrose or Tremont stations.
On a related matter, the Department of Parks and Recreation recently reached out to my office to solicit input regarding Railroad Park. Located on East 161st Street, one block south of the Melrose station, it is now possible to imagine this park and its unique park-building as being able to afford Metro North passengers a place to stop at, or pass through as they make their way to a destination. My office looks forward to coordinating the various visions that the community, Metro-North and the Parks Department may want to propose for this strategic site.
As our city’s subway system’s ridership exceeds six million passengers per day and our roadway and highway network sustains record levels of use, expanding Metro North Railroad service is not only desirable but essential.
I thank Metro-North for this opportunity to offer my comments. I look forward to not only seeing this expanded service provided to Melrose and Tremont, but even more exciting, the introduction of Metro-North Railroad transit to the communities of Co-op City, Morris Park, Parkchester-Van Nest and Hunts Point.
Using tracks laid out over a century ago, this entirely new railroad option will offer over 160,000 people who live within a mile of the four proposed railroad stations, one-seat transportation to Penn Station in Manhattan and along the New Haven Line, in Westchester and Fairfield Counties.