Back in February, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) officials said it was “premature” to put any spending for the Port Authority Bus Terminal (PABT) in the capital program, and that nothing would be done regarding building a new bus garage until a $5.5 million study was complete.
But it seems like the Authority is revisiting this stance given new financial optimism and pressure from advocates and elected officials.
A few weeks ago, PANYNJ Commissioners Ken Lipper and Jeffrey Lynford of New York and David Steiner of New Jersey indicated that due to “several recent positive financial developments for the agency,” a new terminal “could and should be added” to the 10-year, $27.6 billion capital plan adopted in February. This news comes in response to New Jersey State Senator Loretta Weinberg’s testimony last month during the monthly meeting of the Port Authority Board of Directors.
The growing number of public complaints from New Jersey Transit commuters who use the PABT caught the attention of Assemblymembers Gordon Johnson and Senator Loretta Weinberg, who held a hearing on June 11 in Teaneck specifically to discuss concerns regarding the PABT. “We wanted to make sure in a most public way that NJ Transit and PANYNJ are well aware of the problems,” Weinberg said. “We’ve been hearing from our constituents,” who Weinberg says often must stand for more than an hour at a gate waiting to board a bus.
CHEKPEDS (Clinton Hell’s Kitchen Coalition for Pedestrian Safety) and Tri-State have long called for more bus capital investments in the PANYNJ capital program. Residents frustrated by overcrowding at the PABT, which results in buses clogging up neighborhood streets, helped pack the room for the June 11 hearing along with scores of “visibility frustrated and angry” NJ Transit commuters who came to voice their concerns.
The change in course might be bolstered by $90 million in PABT improvements announced in April by Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye in response to advocates’ calls for more spending on bus infrastructure in the PANYNJ’s recently approved 2014-2023 Capital Plan. Foye said the funding will address some of these concerns, but despite his reconfirming the $90 million allocation yesterday after Senate President Stephen Sweeney joined Senator Weinberg in publicly decrying the decrepit terminal, details on exactly how that money would be spent remain unclear.