230,000 Losers and Still No Clear Winner in Port Authority Bus Terminal Design Competition

Nearly a year ago, discussing the bus terminal replacement project, the Port Authority declared, “We are so out of our league. We don’t know what we’re doing.” Since then, the authority has launched an International Design & Deliverability Competition to bring in some ideas and guide the replacement process.

A year later, how much closer are we to seeing a new terminal?

At the Port Authority Board of Commissioners meeting this week, Martin Wachs, the chair of the jury tasked with selecting a winner, presented the still-uncertain results of the competition. Of the 15 submissions, five were selected as finalists. The concepts were judged using 14 criteria, three of which holistically summed the criteria’s essence: (1) bus operations (2) capital and operating costs and cost escalation risk, and (3) impact on surrounding community.

It appears as though the jury found all five finalists had something of value to add to the planning process, but all seemed to fall short on hitting the nail on the head.

We’re really not measurably closer to seeing the terminal’s replacement, but it appears that the commissioners gained some insight, and have come away with a list of questions and considerations, such as:

  • How to augment bus parking and staging?
  • Should intercity and commuters riders should be separated?
  • Should part of the terminal be underground?
  • Can the existing terminal be rebuilt?
  • Can the terminal be located outside of the preferred area?
  • Should the terminal include a green roof?
  • How can technology be incorporated?

So while there was no clear “winner” in the competition, there are certainly some clear losers: the PABT’s 230,000 daily commuters who are still without hope that a new terminal will be built soon.

4 Comments on "230,000 Losers and Still No Clear Winner in Port Authority Bus Terminal Design Competition"

  1. I would do a 42nd Street crosstown bus that would link to Journal Square Transportation Center link as what Governer Cumomo says about the Laguardia Link with the q 70 bus while a new airtrain is being built. The 42nd Street Crosstown bus would become a select bus service and link to Journal Square Transportation Center while a new bus terminal is built at the existing location. The New Bus Terminal at the existing location will include lots of retail and dining options. The Journal Square bus terminal carries 8 million passengers. All bus travel carriers would be moved to the Journal Square Transportation center while a new one is being built at the existing location New York Location.

  2. Rob Durchola | October 21, 2016 at 8:41 pm |

    There needs to be an agreement that a larger terminal is needed. This can best be done by expanding the existing terminal west of 9th Avenue.

    Step 1: Pay for full temporary relocation costs of all businesses and residents in the area needed. This includes moving expenses and rental costs while displaced.

    Step 2. Build a new terminal that in the short run can accommodate the current terminal users west of 9th Avenue. Include new #7 train stop at 10th & 41st, new retail locations on ground floor, and a new tower above the terminal including community facilities and residences.

    3. Let previous tenants move back at old rental rates adjusted as per inflation or rent control, if they desire. Other spaces go at market rates. Use market rate spaces to subsidize old tenants and bus terminal. Property owners of old property used for terminal/tower get partial ownership of new tower.

    4. Tear down and rebuild existing terminal with tower on top. Again, use revenue from tower to subsidize terminal.

    5. Use extra space now available in the terminal complex for bus storage (including both commuter and tour/charter buses) and for bus services using the Lincoln Tunnel but not now using the terminal.

    Note: This is obviously just a basic outline; but the idea of using the air rights over the PABT has been floated by the PANYNJ before and should be viable as a way of subsidizing its operation.

  3. Not sure how much it would cost, but they should build a new terminal on the site next to Javits at 34th and the Westside Highway. It should have on overground bridge the feeds directly into the terminal that spurs off of route 3 in NJ. The bridge could be for buses, bike and pedestrians only. The bridge could even be designed to accommodate some bus parking for use during rush hour peak. Arguably you can decrease congestion at the tunnel making speedy bus travel even more attractive to riders while also providing a path for bikers and a potential tourist attraction for pedestrians. Of course this could encourage more people to drive with less traffic at the tunnel but hopefully high tolls could dissuade them.

  4. Rob Durchola | October 24, 2016 at 8:15 pm |

    Re: Using Journal Square Bus Terminal – problems:

    1. Very poor access from areas to the north and west of the Lincoln Tunnel. Poor access from most other areas.

    2. No capacity on PATH or on roads back to Lincoln and Holland Tunnels for a bus shuttle of the volume needed.

    3. Really backtracking for bus riders from Bergen/Passaic and parts of other counties.

    4. Most important: – Journal Square is at capacity at peak periods now.

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