By Erin Delmore
Gratitude and relief from a bipartisan group of lawmakers. The Port Authority is signing off on a new bus terminal in New York — not New Jersey.
“We’re all together on this. It’s nice when you have Democrats and Republicans that we normally don’t agree on a hell of a lot but we agree that this is a priority,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney.
The bi-state agency voted in October to authorize provisional plans for a replacement bus terminal in Manhattan, one block from the current one. But Chairman John Degnan sparred with Vice Chair Scott Rechler. Rechler — and other New Yorkers — favored a second station near Secaucus Junction.
“It means getting off the bus, walking some place and waiting for a second seat in a transportation hub where the PATH trains and the commuter trains are already over subscribed,” said Sen. Loretta Weinberg.
The current Port Authority Bus Terminal bears the load of 90,000 passengers during the morning rush, over 200,000 per day, 630 “bus movements” per hour. The senators toured it in October.
“We saw barrels collecting water from leaking ceilings. We saw bathrooms that looked like they had been built in the 1940s. We saw long, huge lines waiting to get up to the bus and I had witnessed that myself,” Weinberg said.
The agency put $90 million toward stopgap fixes like ventilation, leaks and unreliable cell and Internet service. Now the board voted to include the new terminal in its 10-year capital plan.
“They should have never not been in the capital program,” said Sweeney.
Also in the capital plan: redeveloping Newark Airport’s Terminal A and LaGuardia Airport, which Vice President Joe Biden said looked like a “third world country” when he toured it two years ago.
“Had he taken a bus he would have been very aware of what a third world country transportation hub looks like,” Weinberg said.
Weinberg invited Port Authority Vice Chairman Rechler to the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee’s April 25 meeting in Teaneck. She said, take the bus. Gate 210. We’ll pick you up.