original “build-in-place” idea pitched more than a year ago.
Port Authority officials plan to apply for federal grant and loan funding and generate revenue from four new private developments for commercial, retail and residential use on the site to help pay for the project via air rights and a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes plan, which is subject to city approval. It’s unclear whether those sources alone would cover the full cost of the terminal.
The announcement was made Thursday in a virtual press conference with Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton, board Chairman Kevin O’Toole of New Jersey and Steven Plate, who oversees capital projects. Early details of the new bus terminal design were first reported by Politico.
O’Toole, whose father regularly commuted via bus to the city from Cedar Grove for 17 years, said this was “the most exciting day in the last 3½ years,” the time he’s been on the board.
“It’s time to give those passengers that have been using this facility, people like my father and others for the last three, four, five decades, a brand-new, world-class facility,” O’Toole said. “It appears now we are on the cusp of having consensus on a once-in-a-lifetime project, and I’m excited to say that.”
New Jersey state Sen. Loretta Weinberg called the design “an excellent one.”
“It takes into account an expanded, modern bus terminal and the ability to realize income to help pay for it,” said the Senate majority leader from bus-dependent Teaneck, who has been a champion of the project and prodded Port Authority officials for years about the need to reimagine the overcrowded and outdated terminal.
unveiled three plans under consideration for a new Port Authority Bus Terminal, down from 13 alternatives contemplated before that, and 30 plans that preceded those. The two plans that have now been eliminated included one that would have split bus departures between a renovated terminal and the basement of the Javits Center and another that would have also used the conference center plus space from a nearby pier, to allow the agency to sell the current site to a developer.Two popular New York City restaurants open locations in American Dream Mall
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Here are some of the proposed improvements for the new bus facilities:
The Port Authority Bus Terminal is among the busiest transit hubs in the country and is the busiest bus terminal in the world, but it has long operated over capacity and is structurally deficient to handle its daily traffic of about 260,000 passenger trips.
Among the notorious elements of the current terminal are the long lines that snake around the station and sometimes down idle escalators. To address that, Plate said, the interior design will be more reminiscent of an airport.
“You’re talking about a much more spacious location with cutting-edge-type arrangements relative to elevators, escalators,” Plate said. “We’re looking at cutting-edge signage and also the ability, with using a lot of glass product, to make sure that people can make a visual connection. That helps tremendously, so really the edges of this will grow architecturally and functionally.”
Cotton said the facilities would be built to last for around three decades and anticipated capacity growth in that time. “What this is designed to do is give bus riders a facility that the region can be proud of. It needs to be built, and we should size it in a way so we don’t have to go back to the well in any near-future planning horizon.”
Jim Smith, a spokesman for NJ Transit, said the agency supports the design — adding that “rebuilding in place is critical” — and is working with the Port Authority to ensure that the capacity will be appropriate and construction disruption minimized for customers before it fully opens.
Reimagining the 70-year-old, midtown Manhattan bus portal has been a topic of conversation since 2013, when the bi-state agency first began studying a replacement terminal, but the needle toward construction hasn’t moved much during that time. The last time it received a substantial makeover was in 1981.
And in recent months, the project appeared to be facing another possible setback due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cost-saving measures like scaling back the capital plan to exclude projects not yet in construction were warned about for months. The agency also is hoping the Biden administration will come through on previously ignored requests for federal funding from a future stimulus package to make up for lost revenues in 2020.
The plan was submitted to the Federal Transit Administration on Thursday, and an environmental review will follow once a determination is made about whether it needs a more thorough review, known as an environmental impact statement, or a less thorough one, called an environmental assessment.
Public hearings are tentatively expected in late summer or fall. In the meantime, information can be found on a dedicated website, www.pabtreplacement.com, or at a community center in the current terminal where people can stop in to ask questions of the staff.
Colleen Wilson covers the Port Authority and NJ Transit for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to her work covering the region’s transportation systems and how they affect your commute, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.