Port Authority Promises Fixes At NYC Bus Terminal

NEW YORK (AP) -

A replacement for the aging and outdated Port Authority Bus Terminal may be a decade or more away, but officials at the agency said Wednesday they plan to improve commuters’ daily experience with a series of smaller measures while rethinking a long-term capital plan to include a new facility.

The 64-year-old terminal has been the focus of increasing criticism in recent months, particularly from some New Jersey lawmakers who say their constituents are tired of long wait times, an over- or under-heated waiting area, leaking ceilings and spotty wireless service.

The terminal handles about 220,000 trips per day. This week, one of those passengers was newly appointed Port Authority chairman John Degnan, who rode the bus from New Jersey to get a firsthand look and pronounced the experience sorely lacking. During a committee meeting Wednesday, Cedrick Fulton, the agency’s head of bridges, tunnels and terminals, called the terminal “functionally obsolete in almost every way imaginable.”

Degnan wants to divert $90 million from a 10-year capital plan for immediate upgrades, which will go along with $173 million in the plan that is dedicated to terminal improvements. It is a far cry from the estimated $1 billion to replace the facility, but Degnan called it an important shift.

The money will be used to fix the air conditioning and renovate restrooms, upgrade cellphone and wireless systems and customer service. The agency also plans to try to reduce delays, adding street-level bus gates and reassigning gates, and creating a bypass lane for buses to get to the 4th floor of the terminal quicker.