2017-05-19 / Columnists

A New $10 Billion Port Authority Bus Terminal?

Transit Talk
By Larry Penner

This is a rendering of one of the several proposed designs for the new Port Authority Bus Terminal. Photo courtesy of Hudson Terminal Center Collaborative. This is a rendering of one of the several proposed designs for the new Port Authority Bus Terminal. Photo courtesy of Hudson Terminal Center Collaborative. Recent news that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have abandoned plans to build a new 42nd Street Bus Terminal using eminent domain to acquire adjacent property, but instead will build a new terminal 100 percent within the existing foot print still may never happen. The approved PA 2017 - 2026 10 year $32 billion Capital Plan provided only $3.5 billion toward construction of the new $10 billion 42nd Street PA Bus Terminal. Initiation of another planning study for $70 million is just the first down payment. How many more years will it take to complete this study / environmental review process / preliminary along with final design and engineering?

It is wishful thinking that the PA can count on $6.5 billion in future federal funding to make up the difference. Don’t be surprised in waiting until the next PA’s 10-year 2027-2036 Capital Plan before a complete $10 billion or more funding package is in place. This is necessary to support awarding construction contracts.

The PA, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New Jersey Transit, NYC Department of Transportation and other transportation agencies are counting on the same US Department of Transportation Federal Transit or Federal Highway Administration to help provide billions toward the $24 billion Gateway Tunnel, $10 billion Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel, the $6 billion Phase Two Second Avenue Subway, the $2 billion Long Island Rail Road Main Line Third Track, $1.4 billion for Staten Island West Shore Bus Rapid Transit, $1 billion restoration of LIRR service on the old Queens Rockaway LIRR branch, $400 million Woodhaven Blvd Select Bus Service, among many others.

The PA should learn from their mistakes. The World Trade Center PATH Station costs doubled from $2 billion to $4 billion and is subject to major leaks from heavy rain. It took 15 years after 9/11 to complete this project. How long it will take for a new mid-town bus terminal? The estimated costs are already $10 billion (with no design and engineering for validation) and no real anticipated completion date. Based upon past history, will these dollars will ever be found.

A better solution is to extend the MTA NYC Transit No. 7 subway extension from the Hudson Yards station on to NJ Transit’s Secaucus Junction station by Exit 15X on the NJ Turnpike. Build a new bus terminal at Secaucus. This could divert thousands of riders from both the 42nd St Bus Terminal and Penn Station.

Ask the MTA, NYC. New York State, New Jersey, NJ Transit, PANYNJ and US Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration New Starts Program to provide financial contributions for fully funding this project. Riders and taxpayers from both states would benefit.

Imagine providing a direct connection linking New Jersey, Penn Station, Grand Central Terminal and Queens under a one seat ride. This could assist thousands of reverse commuters to employment centers along with sporting events such as NJ Giants, NJ Jets and concerts at the Meadowlands (via Secaucus Junction station), NY Mets and concerts at Citi Field, US Open, Arthur Ash stadium along with Flushing Meadow Park and Queens Zoo. Thousands of New Jersey residents would have easier access to Manhattan East Side. Metro North commuters via Grand Central Terminal (along with LIRR riders when East Side Access to Grand Central Terminal is completed in 2023) would have a new option to New Jersey.

This could afford PA the ability to renovate the existing 42nd St. Bus Terminal within the existing footprint in phases without the need of significant adjacent private property condemnation in phases. Amtrak could shut down one Hudson River tunnel from New Jersey to Penn Station at a time for critical repairs. Both could remain in transit service with necessary work accomplished at far less cost.

The PA reminds me of the character Wimpy who famously said “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” Tuesday may never come for commuters and taxpayers who use and are looking for a new 42nd Street Bus Terminal within their lifetime. Larry Penner is a transportation historian and advocate who previously worked 31 years for the US Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office.

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Fight for trains and

Fight for trains and busservice in the rockaways not the bull in Manhattan i worked 30 years in transit sir care about our neighborhood coalition of the rockaways Bruce Jacobs

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