WASHINGTON HEIGHTS – The George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal finally opened Tuesday morning, more than two years behind schedule and $17 million over budget.
The bus terminal — which features seating for 125 people and disability-compliant gates — was slated to open mid-May 2015, but was delayed after encountering several “construction challenges” that pushed the date back even further, said a spokesman for the developers George Washington Bridge Redevelopment Venture LLC, a private development company overseeing the redevelopment of the half-century-old terminal in conjunction with the Port Authority.
The terminal got a mixed reception Tuesday, as commuters said they were relieved to be finally taking a step forward after all this time, but still noted the terminal appeared largely unfinished.
"It's progress, right?" Wilfredo Torres, of Hackensack, New Jersey, said.
Jason Everett of Harlem said he was frustrated to discover that he will no longer be allowed to purchase his bus ticket from the driver after the terminal adopted cashless ticketing, and will have to buy his ticket beforehand.
Everett said he travels often to New Jersey for work and to visit his children — and that on Tuesday, there were only two working machines selling tickets and long lines to reach them.
"This is going to be a lot of people, and you have two machines. This is an inconvenient that they don't have more machines," Everett said, adding that he missed his bus because of the new system.
In addition, developers have come under fire from several of the small businesses owners slated to open at the site.
The small business owners said the developers refused to let them begin construction on their storefronts while the terminal was being built. Developers blamed a clause in the contract that prevented union workers for the Port Authority from working alongside non-union workers hired by the small businesses.
Dates for the retail and small businesses opening date are still pending.