TSTC and Manhattanites Call for Port Authority to Improve Bus Facilities

TSTC's Veronica Vanterpool, center, and CB 4 chair Christine Berthet, to her right, outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal today. Photo: Madeline Marvar/TSTC
TSTC’s Veronica Vanterpool, center, and CB 4 chair Christine Berthet, to her right, outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal today. Photo: Madeline Marvar/TSTC

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign joined locals in Hell’s Kitchen today to call on the Port Authority to invest in improved and expanded bus facilities to relieve pressure on local streets.

With no more space left in the authority’s existing facilities, a growing number of buses are parked by curbs near the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Locals and advocates have long urged the Port Authority to remove idle buses from neighborhood streets and improve conditions for bus riders with a new garage and renovations to the terminal.

“The asthma rate for our children is the third highest in Manhattan,” said Christine Berthet, chair of Manhattan Community Board 4 and co-founder of CHEKPEDS, in a written statement. “Bus gridlock prevents pedestrians from crossing the streets and retail stores see their revenues plummet. With each residential tower replacing a bus parking lot, the problem has escalated to crisis proportions.”

Today’s event took place before the Port Authority board was scheduled to vote on the 2014-2023 capital program.

“Every day, more than 8,500 buses carry nearly 400,000 people through the PABT and the GWBBS [George Washington Bridge Bus Station] so it’s baffling that there are no funds in the next capital program for a new bus garage or improvements to the bus terminal,” said Veronica Vanterpool, TSTC executive director.

A billion-dollar bus garage was proposed in the authority’s 2007-2013 capital program, but the project was dropped in 2009, Vanterpool told Streetsblog. The authority is looking to build a 100-spot garage annex on W. 39th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues, but that proposal is dependent on a federal grant. It’s also much smaller than the garage that was shelved by the authority, Vanterpool said.

Vanterpool noted that the authority can make year-to-year budget and capital spending adjustments, which leaves room for bus improvements to resurface.

“The annex is certainly something that will help,” said Vanterpool, “but the Port Authority needs to revisit its priorities and start making capital investments for buses.” 

  • Bolwerk

    Keep the existing terminal more or less as it is, but run HBLR to PABT through the Lincoln Tunnel? Once you’re serving 400,000 people at one station it’s time to start railstituting some services.

  • Stephen Smith

    From the people of Twitter, a request: make a Twitter account! Join us! You always leave such great comments…

    – @marketurbanism

  • ohnonononono

    The vast majority of PABT customers aren’t going anywhere near the HBLR though. The PABT-bound NJTransit bus network does have some major spines, but one of its features is that it disburses all over different parts of North Jersey, and most people have a 1-seat ride– they walk from their house to the bus and take that straight in to PABT.

  • Mark Walker

    When the Newark airport bus was moved from inside the PABT to the street outside the terminal, I stopped flying out of Newark altogether. Using the street outside the terminal for bus pickups is brutal to the rider, especially the rider who’s headed to an airport. And on so many levels: You breathe something close to pure tailpipe exhaust, your ears are battered by noise, you have no place to sit, barely any place to stand, and with your baggage sitting on the sidewalk, you’re a slow-moving (actually, stationary) crime target. By the time you get to the airport for your flight, you’re already sick and exhausted.

  • PQR

    How many of those 400k go to PABT and not GWBBS? And how many of what’s left are regional travelers and not intercity travelers? And how many of what’s left live along a small number of corridors where it might be even slightly feasible to run light rail to them? Or did you mean that a one seat ride to PABT should become a two seat ride by requiring a transfer to HBLR?

  • Bolwerk

    I only meant HBLR could be used to augment the existing bus services, probably reducing some bus services in favor of the trams. If you want to grow capacity in the region you gotta start somewhere. And laying track through the tunnel to PABT is probably cheaper than replacing PABT with a bigger PABT or building a bus garage. Lincoln Harbor is already steps from the tunnel, and entering the XBL lane can itself probably be done at-grade. So this should be a hundreds-of-millions$ project rather than billions$.

    See “Total Public Transit Passengers…Entering and Leaving The Hub On A Fall Business Day, 2002-2012” (PDF page 17). I assume cyclists aren’t operative here, but Hub Bound says 341,539. GWB’s bus terminal isn’t listed on the table. Not sure this number includes LD buses, but it’s not like they don’t benefit from the change.

    @disqus_ojtov0c6gS:disqus is absolutely right that PABT is fed by buses from all over New Jersey, but some of those buses do share a service area with HBLR. Feeding buses to HBLR is probably means inflicting another transfer on what is already almost certainly a two-seat ride and could be a three-seat ride. If HBLR were combined with Vision42, then the idea of feeding buses to HBLR might make more sense.

  • Bolwerk

    I generally agree, but (1) you have to start somewhere and (2) that area likely has crappier access to Manhattan than much of the wider diffused part of NJ. The status quo punishes people who live there with more expensive (e.g., ferries) and generally less accessible transit to Manhattan

    I don’t think HBLR to PABT or beyond is a net loss for bus users. Both probably could be accommodated.

  • Bolwerk

    Thanks, but I actually have followed you for ages! I’m a pretty passive lurker on Twitter. I like it for finding articles I’d otherwise miss. What little tweeting I do is more about other interests.

    But I just find it too frustrating for actual conversation.

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