After years of kicking the can down the road, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) finally announced last Friday the launch of its International Design & Deliverability Competition to construct a new Port Authority Bus Terminal (PABT). The competition is broken up into two submission phases, throughout which the Port Authority will narrow entries to determine a design winner.
The competition’s problem, however, may be in its execution. Below is a timeline for the PABT design competition:
A single month to narrow down submissions and just three months to pick a design winner is an alarmingly expedited schedule, especially for a $10 billion project that handles more passengers each year than Newark and LaGuardia Airports combined.
A new bus terminal is critical for Manhattan-bound commuters, and after punting the problem around for so long, the Port Authority should not be making up for lost time with a hasty process. At the very least, the competition should wait until the trans-Hudson Commuting Capacity Study concludes at the end of June.
Moreover, the public process is critical and should not be overlooked or undervalued. The only public input at this point is through the Port Authority Bus Terminal Design Survey–an inadequate means of public input for such an important project. Board meetings and hearings specifically focused on the new bus terminal should be well publicized and conveniently timed and located to encourage public attendance and comments. An e-mail address or website designated specifically for input on the project would further promote public engagement.
The best bus terminal would be one that considers current and future cross-Hudson capacity needs. The Port Authority should hold off on selecting a winning design until after the trans-Hudson Community Capacity Study concludes and allow for meaningful engagement with the public to obtain valuable passenger input.