What Travellers Should Know About Penn Station

If you’re travelling to New York City for any reason, whether for work, leisure, or a combination, you might want to know about Penn Station. There’s a chance you could come into Penn Station if you take the train from the airport or you’re coming into town on a train.

You might need to store your luggage at Penn Station while you wait for your lodging to be ready just as an example, or you might need to go there if you’re travelling somewhere regionally following your time in the city.

The following is an overview of Penn Station and everything travellers should know.

What Are The Basics of Penn Station?

Penn Station is a commuter rail station as well as an intercity station. It’s the busiest railroad station in the Western Hemisphere. It is the main intercity railroad station in NYC, and there are 21 tracks that are fed by seven tunnels.

Penn Station is the central hub of the Northeast Corridor, connecting New York City to Boston, Philadelphia and Washington D.C.

Each day, an estimated 650,000 commuters go through the station. However, it’s not known for its architecture or aesthetics. In fact, readers of Curbed even named it one of the ugliest buildings in New York City.

Penn Station does serve Amtrak, Long Island Railroad, and New Jersey transit passengers, and there are current renovation plans underway.

The station is located beneath Madison Square Garden and Penn Plaza.

It’s in Midtown West, which along with the actual crush of the station, is where you’ll find some of New York’s worst traffic.

The station is divided into two main concourses. The station’s upper level is Amtrak and NJ Transit. The lower concourse is primarily for the Long Island Rail Road, and there are also 1,2,3, A, C, and E subway lines. The lower concourse is where most of the popular dining options are like Shake Shack as well, but starting in April of this year, you’re likely going to see these spots close for construction.

How Do You Get to Penn Station?

There are six subway lines that run through Penn Station, so the best way to get there is by subway, or perhaps by bus.

If you’re coming from an airport or going to one, you can take the Long Island Rail Road from Jamaica to Penn Station. You can also take New Jersey Transit from Newark.

However, if you’re trying to get to LaGuardia, you should likely skip Penn Station because at the end of the day for that airport, it makes more sense to take a cab or rideshare.

You Should Avoid Rush Hour At all Costs

If you think you might need to go to this station during rush hour, don’t. Either get there early or kill some time because it will be maddening, particularly if you’re aren’t used to public transportation.

What Train Companies Operate Out of Penn Station?


Penn Station is Amtrak’s busiest station, and it connects visitors to Montreal as well as Boston, Philadelphia, and D.C. There are other routes offered across the country as well, and Amtrak is directly below Madison Square Garden.

You can find all the Amtrak essentials like customer service and waiting areas for passengers with tickets.

If you take an Acela train, you may have access to Club Acela Pennsylvania Station, which is quiet and offers some free snacks.

Amtrak right now is working on a new hall which includes an atrium with natural light, a lounge, and retail and food options.

Long Island Rail Road

Long Island Rail Road is a commuter system that runs through the southwest part of the state. It goes from Manhattan to the eastern side of Long Island. It’s used to access the Hamptons, as well as Jamaica Station, where you can take the AirTrain and et to John F. Kennedy Airport.

There’s no LIRR waiting room, but there are ticket counters and kiosks.

New Jersey Transit

NJ Transit is a public transportation line that serves New York State, New Jersey, and portions of Pennsylvania. You can use it to get to Newark or Philadelphia.

If you find yourself in the station and you want a snack, Shake Shack is one of the most popular options until it closes temporarily. There’s also The Pennsy NYC, which is a food hall with vendors serving everything from tacos to sushi, and there’s also a wine and cocktail bar.

The biggest tip to keep in mind with Penn Station? Buy your tickets ahead of time online and avoid the long lines.

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