Port Authority authorizes planning for new bus terminal, interim solutions for existing terminal

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port authority bus terminal
The Port Authority's midtown bus terminal

The Port Authority Board of Commissioners today authorized the agency to begin the first phase of a comprehensive planning process for the replacement of the midtown bus terminal – including the hiring of environmental and technical consultants to ensure compliance with federal, state and local review processes.

The board authorized the agency to hire environmental and technical consultants to provide project management and planning services for the bus terminal replacement, and to evaluate interim solutions for the existing terminal, the Port Authority said in a news release. These consultants would ensure that all planning stages comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and/or all applicable review processes, and that there is coordination with stakeholders and adherence to eligibility requirements for federal funding.

The planning process will include evaluation of potential intermediate bus staging and storage facilities and other initiatives to sustain and meet capacity requirements for efficient operations of the interstate bus network, including the existing PABT facility. These initiatives will help ensure the existing Port Authority Bus Terminal is able to continue to meet current bus and passenger demand.

“We continue to acknowledge that, while the new Port Authority Bus Terminal is a critical first step in improving trans-Hudson commuting, it is only one piece of a menu of options that must be in place to meet the needs created by future demand increases,” said Port Authority chairman John Degnan. “The Port Authority will work with our stakeholders to take their important views into account, as we did at the 2015 Trans-Hudson Summit and in the 2016 Trans-Hudson Commuting Capacity Study.”

“Meeting the needs of the growing number of the region’s bus commuters is an essential component of the Port Authority’s transportation mission, and this project will be done while fully respecting and minimizing the impacts on Manhattan’s West Side after and considering the input of residents there in a formal environmental process,’’ said Port Authority executive director Pat Foye.

Planning for a new bus terminal will include identifying an optimal location based on ongoing engagement with the City of New York and other New York and New Jersey stakeholders. Additionally, it will include reviewing the agency’s previous midtown bus master planning effort, the analysis and suggestions of the Port Authority Bus Terminal International Design + Deliverability Competition and the findings of the Trans-Hudson Commuting Capacity Study commissioned by the board.

The Port Authority Bus Terminal, located on Manhattan’s West Side, opened in 1950 and last underwent a major expansion in 1979. Each weekday it accommodates approximately 232,000 passenger trips and 7,800 bus movements. Demand is expected to increase by 51 percent, with up to 337,000 weekday passenger trips, by 2040.

Even at today’s levels of bus demand, the bus terminal routinely operates beyond capacity during peak travel hours. Through an ongoing Quality of Commute initiative, the Port Authority has partnered with bus operators on operational changes that have reduced crowding within the terminal and relieved congestion caused by buses on nearby streets.

However, a lack of strategically located bus parking, and facilities for the staging of empty buses ready to enter the terminal to pick up afternoon commuters, remains a persistent problem. The Trans-Hudson Commuting Capacity Study suggested that the addition of parking and staging facilities is needed to help the bus terminal accommodate growing demand.