Today’s Headlines

  • We Can’t Have Nice Things Because Cuomo and Christie Love Airport Transit Boondoggles (Voice)
  • Port Authority Approves $3.5B for New Bus Terminal, But Somehow It Costs Much More (AMNY, Politico)
  • Port Will Make Pinch Points on GWB Paths Less Pinched (AMNY)
  • Ross Barkan: Why Doesn’t Progressive Bill de Blasio Fight for Progressive Road Pricing in Albany? (Voice)
  • Ydanis and Tish James: MTA Needs to Fix 168th Street Elevators Right Away (DNA)
  • TWU Ratifies New MTA Contract (NY1)
  • Two Men Killed in One-Car Crash on Bronx River Parkway (News)
  • School Bus Driver Who Severely Injured Kimera Chin, 11, Charged With Failure to Yield (News)
  • Uber Bought Radio Spots Upstate to Make Its Case for Cuomo’s Ride-Hailing Bill (Politico)
  • Nassau’s Eliminating 10 Bus Routes and Cutting Service on 4 Others (Newsday)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Larry Littlefield

    The new bus terminal means years of disruption followed by a new terminal one or two blocks further from Midtown. Even at $10 billion, it is another example of how we can’t have nice things.

    A reasonable proposal would get that new rail tunnel built with FOUR tracks and also extend the Flushing Line to Secaucus where New York could pick up “our” New Jerseyans and bring them in. A new bus terminal would be built there, along with the rail terminal. All New Jersey buses would terminate at the new bus terminal in New Jersey while a new one is built in Manhattan on the current site — closer to Midtown.

    When the new Manhattan terminal opened, the fare for all West of Hudson buses and trains direct to Manhattan would be higher than the fare for those changing to the PATH/subway at Secaucus, Newark and Hoboken by the equivalent of a subway/PATH fare. So those who would have to use a second form of transit anyway would have an incentive to change at Newark, Secaucus or Hoboken. Plenty of people would continue to do so.

    Those walking or perhaps using Citibike from the Manhattan terminals would be fewer in number, so the new terminal on 8th Avenue wouldn’t have to be as big.

    Having all those trains go through Secaucus, and having many of the buses terminate there even after a new Manhattan bus terminal was built, would make possible transfers for transit travel WITHIN New Jersey without having to cross the Hudson twice.

    Unfortunately New Jersey is broke and continuing to plunder its future to put off disaster until its older residents can get to New Jersey, and NY isn’t much better off. The Port Authority is the brokest of them all.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Another headline today:
    “Annual Traffic Deaths Rose To A Terrifying 40,200 People Last Year”

    Buried in the article was that fully half of those deaths were from people not wearing their seatbelts. Another third were from DUIs. That is to say, fully avoidable.

  • bolwerk

    I doubt you can under any circumstances terminate all buses in New Jersey. MAYBE you can drop the bus station in New York and let some New Jersey buses do a loop around the current vicinity of the bus terminal to drop off and pick up, but the price of that is the not necessarily bad stipulation that the area becomes car-free. And any remotely capacious way to do it requires multi-bus berths on probably a few streets.

    At this point I’d seriously just rather see Gateway dropped in favor of a combined commuter rail station/bus terminal at 42nd. It can’t be worse than what’s coming. Penn is a badly sited station anyway. A good enough commuter rail station doesn’t need to have a very big footprint if service is frequent enough. Even putting Amtrak there can’t be too demanding. How many trains do they run out of Penn at their peak hour? Probably fewer than ten, in three different directions.

    Also, I hope bus advocates keep scolding everyone about how cheap buses are.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “The same things killing drivers — belts, booze and speed.”

    I wonder what the national trend is for pedestrians and bicyclists, who don’t get to make the choices that lead to these crashes?

  • ahwr

    Go back to 2007 to get to the ~40k total deaths in 2016, go back to 96 to get to the last time pedestrian deaths were as high as they were in 2015, 95 for bike rider deaths. That last one gets worse if you focus on those 20 or older.

  • Vooch

    The PABT boondoggle is to expand capacity by 250,000.

    Instead of adding another 250,000 to a already crowded midtown, why not keep PABT at its current capacity AND expand NJT plus PATH further into NJ plus 7 line to Secaucus ?

    For same amount of money, one would get a much widers distribution of arrivals in Manhattan, more 1 seat rides, less motor traffic congestion in NJ,

    PABT expansion is just a edifice complex boondoggle that does not provide one iota of mobility

  • Larry Littlefield

    Well it is falling apart and inadequate, so you just can’t keep it.

    And there is nowhere to put the current riders if you tear it down and rebuild it in place, especially with the contractors/unions/consultants/community benefits advocates/mafia slowing down construction to extort higher payments.

    So then what? Pay huge money to tear down part of the west side? Seems like a ripoff of NY in the short run. But it’s NJ that loses in the long run, based on the new location.

    If New Jersey wasn’t broke it would be building for the next 100 years, with a plan to accommodate inter-Jersey travel as well as travel to NY. NY would perhaps kick in based on its share of west of Hudson riders, with the Feds kicking in based on Amtrak as a percent of the under Hudson trains.

  • Vooch

    Agreed – so might be best to remodel PABT in place ( figure 2 billion )

    and then use the other 8 billion for the tunnel & rail projects you describe

  • bolwerk

    The problem is that PATH doesn’t take these people where they want to go in Manhattan. If it did, sending those buses to any existing PATH station would be a viable alternative (partial one anyway). Even then, PATH is a southward diversion for many PABT users.

    7 to Secaucus seems like a good idea to me, but it’s probably at most only capable of removing half the direct buses. Larry is right. PABT needs to be replaced.

    There’s also really no good reason to put Gateway at 34th Street, except that’s where trains already go. Penn Station/Gateway are way south and west of where most commuters want to go, which was the impetus of East Side Access.

  • Vooch

    re: 7 to Secaucus ?

    If it removes 1/2 the loading from PABT; then problem essentially solved.

  • bolwerk

    It doesn’t seem like a hard question to me. The senescence process of the bus terminal has been more or less understood since it opened. In that time* New Jersey could have built several transit links to its main employment center. Instead it piggy-backed one link on a piece of automobile infrastructure that is poorly suited to moving that many people.

    Tear it down in place. Rebuild in place. Do nothing to accommodate the people who will suffer in the mean time unless it can be done without significantly burdening others. It’s the right thing to do, and it even gets the terminal up in the fastest way possible.

    * a window of ~70 years? Whatever it was, it was predictable. And we’re near the end of it.

  • bolwerk

    1/2 is optimistic.

    But either way, the terminal is at the end of its life cycle. That problem won’t be fixed cheaply.

  • Vooch

    i understand that the main reason for a new $10 billion PABT is a 2x increase in projected ridership.

    If #7 to Secacus attracts 1/2 the PABT ridership, than no need to expand PABT, just remodel existing PABT

  • bolwerk

    Projected increases in ridership are the stated reason for a larger terminal, but those increases are not the reason for replacing the terminal. It needs to be replaced because renovating/remodeling is not good enough, whether ridership rises or plummets. Unless you can think of a way to drop ridership down to buses-on-the-street levels, it unavoidably needs to be replaced. A smaller terminal may be possible, but it will still be a new terminal.

    It is a manufactured, at least man-made, crisis though. It’s not like Hurricane Sandy, where the severity could conceivably take someone by surprise. We’ve had the engineering know-how to discern the lifespan of the bus terminal all along, and did nothing to mitigate the probable crisis of not being able to access the terminal. (Of course, it’s not just long-term planning the indulgent vampires who rule New Jersey are bad at. This is the state that decided to park its trains on a flood plain during Sandy. Oops!)

  • Vooch

    I honestly do not understand why renovating existing terminal is impossible

  • Lincoln

    Simple solution: Don’t replace PABT.
    Before construction starts, build a bus facility across 9th avenue directly connecting to each level.

    Step 1. Close 41st at 8th ave. put a bus loop at the East end of the 8th-9th avenue block of 41st, gates lining it on both sides numbered as 100 series gates, Build a new level on top of the current terminal, for long distance buses, numbered as 600 series gates. Build gates in existing third floor North wing (500 series)
    Step 2. Close and rebuild the 000 series (Lower level) gates Move all LD buses to new 600 gates on 4th floor. Commuter buses move to 100 series gates at ground level and 500 series gates on third floor.
    Step 3. Close and rebuild 3rd floor (upper 200 series, 400 series, new 500 series may have to close due to access issues.). Move all operations downstairs to rebuilt 000 level.
    Step 4. Close and rebuild 2nd floor (Lower 200 series, 300 series) Move all operations upstairs to rebuilt 400/upper 200 and new 500 series gates.
    Step 5. Open expanded terminal!

  • bolwerk

    Maybe it’s not technically impossible, but I think given the way the structure has degraded you can probably count it as more expensive and disruptive to renovate than to replace.

    It’s not Grand Central either. Pouring a lot of money into an expensive renovation isn’t worth it. (Hell. It might be a contender for ugliest piece of shit building of its kind in the world.)

  • Larry Littlefield

    Do the tunnel project first.

    As for the PABT, my understanding is they claim bigger buses mean the floor loads and ceiling heights are inadequate, as well as the capacity. So that’s pretty much a teardown. But it would be nice to have more rail service first.

  • Vooch

    Bigger Buses ? what a horrible idea, sounds as if there is enough density – demand for heavy rail.

    7 to Secacus ( or PATH expansion into NJ ) should be priority

  • Vooch

    It’s a hideous piece of Robert Moses era mass motoring junk, but the terminal guts are fine, just need some interior deco and spiffing up.

    On the other hand – The ramps and assorted roadways are a disaster and likely need complete replacement.

    We should be investing in high volume efficient modes like heavy rail and disinvesting in low volume inefficient modes like buses. Especially when pop. densities in much of area served by PABT buses exceed 15,000/mile. Those densities are perfect for heavy rail like expanded PATH, 7 line, and trains.

    I rode a bus from NJ into PABT for a few years. It was a horrible experience. Building a bigger PABT ain’t changing the awful nature of bus commuting

  • bolwerk

    That’s sort of what I was getting at in my original response to Larry. Gateway isn’t a particularly good investment in rail either. Most of the benefits come from adding two more tracks to Penn. That part is good. Otherwise it’s a boondoggle because we don’t particularly need a new structure.

    OTOH, since a new structure really is needed for the bus terminal, why not one combined rail and bus facility? Ideally it would be through tracked to LI, but even if not it’s a great commuter landing spot. I don’t know whether moving Gateway 8 blocks north and combining it with PABT is technically feasible, but why isn’t it at least mentioned as a possibility in planning discussions?

    Especially when pop. densities in much of area served by PABT buses
    exceed 15,000/mile. Those densities are perfect for heavy rail like
    expanded PATH, 7 line, and trains.

    Well, as I also said (maybe not to you), NJ should have been cultivating more links than Lincoln Tunnel bus connection since World War II. Even Queens, which followed much of the same postwar development patterns as northern NJ, has a few solid transit connections to the CBD, and it used to have at least two more over the QB.

  • Vooch

    dude are you out of your mind –

    a combined rail & bus station ?
    through tracks to LI ?

    next you’ll be wanting all rail in region able to run on same current and same width tunnels and same height platforms for complete interchangeability and efficiency

  • bolwerk

    So was Gateway $20 billion or $30 billion? $10 billion for a new bus terminal, probably in a worse location. $30-40 billion.

    If a combined station can be done for any fraction of that, it makes more sense. Might have enough left over to get the whole region on the same current. :-

  • Vooch

    imagine being able to run a metro north train on LIRR tracks or a IRT train on same

    just because the germans did this a generation ago….

  • bolwerk

    Probably wouldn’t be hard to get a New Haven-LIRR service going (technically). Overhead wire on the NH Line and third rail in LIRR territory?

    I guess it’s more of a bitch with Hudson and Harlem Line trains, but then those don’t have any good way to get to LIRR territory now anyway.

  • Vooch

    the big wins would be having a one seat ride from:

    Great Neck to 14th&Lex

    White Plains to Canal Street

    Morristown to Brooklyn City Hall

    other world cities make this happen – why can’t we ?

  • bolwerk

    Hell, just start by getting NJT, LIRR, and MNRR to play nice enough to run trains into each other’s territory. Once that’s working, then discuss shared extensions.

  • Vooch

    it speaks volumes to the dysfunctional & corrupt nature of our commuter rail systems that nearly 50 years after they were ‘nationalized’ they can’t run on each other’s tracks. FIFTY years !

  • bolwerk

    I agree. This is a whole other can of worms besides high construction costs too. Though in at least one occasion, it led to high construction costs. MNRR wouldn’t share GCT with LIRR or NJT.

    They did kind of do it with a sports service. It ran from Connecticut to New Jersey, and IIRC required two crew changes because the unions couldn’t let other unions work in each other’s territories.

    (Maybe I am misremembering and it was just one change. Crossing through Penn is more Amtrak territory than LIRR territory, and to its credit Amtrak is a bit better at sharing.)