Port Authority Should Make $400M Bus Garage a Top Priority, Locals Say

By Mathew Katz on April 23, 2014 2:01pm 

 Locals called for funding for a bus garage outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal on Wednesday.
Locals called for funding for a bus garage outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal on Wednesday.
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DNAinfo/Mathew Katz

HELL'S KITCHEN — The Port Authority's proposed $400 million bus annex near the Lincoln Tunnel should move forward no matter what, locals say — even as the authority warns that the project's completion hinges on federal funding.

Fed up with buses that idle for hours outside their homes and businesses, dozens of Hell's Kitchen residents called on the Port Authority to move forward with the proposed Galvin Plaza Bus Annex, which would provide space for 100 buses to park in a garage directly connected to both the Lincoln Tunnel and the bus terminal.

Earlier this month, the Port Authority applied for a $230 million federal grant that would pay for some of the annex's hefty price tag, but advocates said that bus infrastructure is so important that it should be funded through the agency's capital budget if the grant does not materialize.

"This neighborhood is overwhelmed by buses," said Christine Berthet of pedestrian group CHEKPEDS, who also chairs Community Board 4. "They really are a problem for all of us."

The idling buses take away parking, hurt air quality, cause massive gridlock and even block locals from getting out of their buildings or parking lots, residents said. The proposed annex, which would sit on the north side of West 39th Street between 10th and 11th avenues, would greatly help alleviate those problems, Berthet said.

A spokesman for the Port Authority said it plans to cover the remainder of the Annex's $400 million cost if it receives the $230 million Federal Transit Administration grant. 

Veronica Vanterpool, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said that with more than 8,500 buses daily carrying people across the Hudson River, bus transportation continues to grow, but the Port Authority has few plans in its $27.6 billion capital program to improve bus infrastructure. 

"We're asking them to make that investment moving forward in its capital program," Vanterpool said. "We're not seeing the level of investment and improvement to support the bus community."

There are so many buses going in and out of the city — and so few places for them to go — that the problem is spreading beyond the West Side, advocates said.

"The Penn Station area is inundated with buses," said Wally Rubin, general manager of Community Board 5, which represents Midtown. "It's a problem that's growing and growing."

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