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Port Authority Wants to Build Bus Terminal Annex

By Mathew Katz | April 1, 2014 6:45am
 Buses parked on West 39th Street, near the area where the Port Authority hopes to build the Galvin Plaza Bus Annex. 
Buses parked on West 39th Street, near the area where the Port Authority hopes to build the Galvin Plaza Bus Annex. 
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DNAinfo/Mathew Katz

HELL'S KITCHEN — The Port Authority hopes to build a $400 million addition to the city's bus terminal in an effort to speed trips for roughly 30,000 passengers daily, according to officials and documents.

The agency's proposed Galvin Plaza Bus Annex would hold 100 buses in a depot on a vacant Port Authority-owned lot on the north side of West 39th Street, between 10th and 11th avenues, officials said. The facility would have direct connections to the Lincoln Tunnel and the Port Authority Bus Terminal, letting buses bypass city streets entirely. 

The annex would help relieve pressure on the over-capacity bus terminal, especially during emergencies, officials said.

During Hurricane Sandy, when subway, train and vehicle tunnels flooded, buses traveling through the Lincoln Tunnel provided one of the only ways to get between New York and New Jersey — and the bus terminal filled up fast. After the storm, the terminal that normally serves about 233,000 passengers daily served an additional 60,000 people daily, officials said.

"The Port Authority Bus Terminal was just flooded with people trying to get in and out — it was so full people couldn't get into the building," said Andrew Lynn, the agency's director of planning and regional development.

Many buses that drop commuters off in New York in the morning can't find parking in Manhattan, and are forced to return to New Jersey until the evening rush hour, Lynn said, causing more traffic. 

The proposed facility would allow buses to be parked and ready to go, letting officials feed them into the bus terminal one after another instead of clogging up city streets or looping around the cavernous terminal.

"Traffic backs up, service becomes unreliable," Lynn said. "During a peak period, 200 buses an hour can be fed into the terminal using the facility — that's a one-third increase in peak period capacity."

The Port Authority applied on Friday for a Federal Transit Administration grant meant to prepare for emergencies resulting from climate change, which would cover $230 million of the cost of the enclosed bus parking facility.

The plan already got a thumbs-up from locals: Community Board 4 wrote in a March 27 letter to the agency that it supports the hub.

"By further ensuring a resilient trans-Hudson transit network, the Galvin Plaza Bus Annex will make Manhattan’s central business district itself more resilient, providing benefits to the city of New York and the entire region," the board wrote.

If all goes well, the Port Authority hopes to build and open the annex by 2020, officials said.