Bus station beneath Javits Center proposed in new plan to fix cross-Hudson commuter hell

Posted On Thu, August 17, 2017 By

Posted On Thu, August 17, 2017 By In City Living, Midtown West, Transportation

Image via Office of Gov. Cuomo depicting the Javits’ upcoming expansion 

As the “summer of hell” days of emergency repairs to Penn Station’s rail system roll by, the Regional Plan Association, a nonprofit transportation advocacy group, is intent on tackling the transit system’s biggest messes; specifically, the association warned that “public transportation across the Hudson River is in crisis,” and is in the process of updating its regional plan to address that issue and other transportation snarls. Among the group’s suggestions: building a terminal for intercity buses underneath the Jacob K. Javits center on Manhattan’s West Side, the New York Times reports.

The group reasons that a second Midtown bus terminal for longer-distance service would help overcrowding at the Port Authority terminal. That idea and others are part of the fourth edition of the RPA regional plan to be released this fall.

The planners of the Gateway project–the effort to fix Hurricane Sandy-damaged tunnels and disaster-proof the crucial sub-Hudson commute–have not ruled out some of the RPA suggestions, such as expanding Penn Station to the south and extending the tunnels all the way across Manhattan and under the East River to Queens.

RPA president Thomas K. Wright said the association did not have estimates of how much these projects would cost, but that extending the Gateway tunnels could cost about $7 billion, which would bring the total cost of Gateway above $35 billion. Half of the funding for the Gateway project is to be provided by the federal government. Wright also said the Gateway planners have been “having trouble getting the money that we need from the feds already,” alluding to the possibility of funding cuts by the Trump administration.

Wright believes that the RPA proposals would be cost-effective ways to help fix the overcrowding on the city’s trains and buses, adding that trains that would run through Manhattan between Long Island and New Jersey could up the capacity of trains crossing the Hudson by about 40 percent. Under the same proposal, trains currently operated by the Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit would merge territories and become available to passengers both east and west of Manhattan.

Wright said that though he didn’t know how much a bus terminal in the Javits Center basement would cost, building it would save the Port Authority billions by rehabilitating instead of replacing the main bus terminal–a project that’s currently in the Port Authority’s plans–in the next 25 years. The Javits Center terminal would also free up room for more commuter buses at the main terminal since intercity buses like those provided by Greyhound and Trailways take up around one fifth of the main terminal gates.

Wright said, however, that the first priority was travel across the Hudson as that was reaching crisis level, with the links between New York and New Jersey “living on borrowed time,” and acknowledging that the existing Sandy-damaged rail tunnel was the most critical item.

A silver lining of sorts to the uphill journey of the transit revamp is that the subway’s woes have caught the attention New York and New Jersey’s governors and various public officials. Wright said that the attendant complaints have “opened up the eyes of public officials and political leaders to these ticking-time-bomb sorts of problems.”


The Jacob K. Javits center, Nov. 2016. Image via Wiki commons.

Not everyone familiar with the subject is a fan of the association’s suggestion of building a second bus station under the Javits Center. Democratic state senators Loretta Weinberg and Robert Gordon of New Jersey called the idea “flawed, premature, unrealistic and New York-centric” and stressed the point that building a new main terminal is a necessity. In a joint statement they pointed to the Port Authority’s projection that the number of New-Jersey-to-Manhattan bus-riding commuters could increase by 50 percent in the next 25 years.

[Via NYTimes]

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