I'm not a daily commuter in-and-out of Penn Station, so I am rarely up there other then when I have to take MARC or Amtrak for business travel. Before the snow yesterday, I found myself up in that part of town while dropping into the UB Library to pick up a book on reserve. Since I had to wait for the Hopkins shuttle to pick me up, I decided to detour into Penn Station to see what improvements have been made since I was last in there. To bring people up to speed Amtrak received stimulus money to make improvements and upgrades at the station.
The interior is seeing some major upgrades. Recently, the ceiling was upgraded, the water stained tiles have been replaced, so the ceiling is now uniformly white. Ceiling fans have been installed and are a great addition. Amtrak is apparently upgrading their train information systems as well. Gone is the auto-mechanical schedule board with its familiar flap-flap-flap sound as the schedule was updated. It has been replaces with an equally large LED display, which has not been put into service yet. New LCD monitors have been added in the many lobby, the sitting area, and the ticketing area, but have not been turned on either.
The biggest improvement so far has been the opening of the Java Moon Cafe (and bar!). This is definitely an attempt to capitalize on the growing number of travellers who travel through Baltimore. The addition of Java Moon fills a major hole at Penn Station where other stations (e.g. 30th Street, Union, NYPenn) have, an expanded place for travellers to sit and grab a bite to eat or have a drink while waiting for the train to arrive.
In the near future the windows will also be replaced through ARRA funds, and the long anticipated renovation for the Inn at Penn Station coming sometime this year.
If any of you readers out there are up by Penn Station in the future, or more frequently than I am, check in and let us know what you see, or if you have any photos.