After several years of community board meetings and looking at 30 different options, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has decided to build a new bus terminal in the same footprint as the current one at 42nd Street.

While the governor, during his State of the State speech scooped the Port Authority by showing the renderings, and identifying the location, the agency gave a presentation this week filling in some, but not all of the details. 

The agency pledged the project would be similar to the recently completed Moynihan Train Hall in that it would be of “airport-like quality” and its funding would include a good portion of private capital. The agency wouldn’t commit to an exact percentage, however, of public/private funding.

A rendering of the Port Authority Bus Terminal interior - it's very bright

A rendering of the Port Authority Bus Terminal's interior

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A rendering of the Port Authority Bus Terminal's interior
Port Authority Bus Terminal

The new station is expected to have room for 30% more buses than the current facility, to anticipate growth. It will be equipped to handle both electric and possibly autonomous buses. As well as buses that are much larger than the ones the current terminal was built to handle. In order to avoid bottlenecks and chokepoints, the ramps into the facility will be wide enough to drive around a bus if it does break down.

“It should be the plan that is our end goal, it is our end goal and it’s precisely what this area of the city, it’s what the region needs,” Rick Cotton, Executive Director of the Port Authority said during a presentation on Thursday.

Listen to Stephen Nessen's report on WNYC:

Cotton said after extensive input from the public and community meetings that the agency decided against acquiring any more land than the Port Authority already owns. Another crucial request from members of the community was to get NJ Transit buses off city streets, as well as interstate buses like Bolt and Megagbus. So, the new terminal plans include ramps that connect directly to the Lincoln Tunnel, rather than winding through the streets. And a separate wing of the terminal for those interstate buses.

Right now, the Port Authority plans to build that facility first, and shift the existing buses there when it tears down the old terminal and builds the new one. 

The dreary ticket concourse

Passenger buy their tickets in the main concourse of the Port Authority Bus Terminal, in New York. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey unveiled a proposal Thursday, Jan. 21, to rebuild and expand the embattled midtown Manhattan bus terminal

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Passenger buy their tickets in the main concourse of the Port Authority Bus Terminal, in New York. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey unveiled a proposal Thursday, Jan. 21, to rebuild and expand the embattled midtown Manhattan bus terminal
Mary Altaffer/AP/Shutterstock

“I think it’s a good plan,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer told Gothamist. “After a really bad start seven years ago when the Port Authority said it wanted to tear down Hell’s Kitchen. That’s all gone, they’ve been listening to the community intently and  they’ve come a long way from their original proposal, that says a lot.”

The project must undergo a federal environmental review, which under the Trump administration, could've taken two years, or died in that stage. But it’s unclear how long it might take under the Biden administration. Then the project would undergo the city’s ULURP process before construction could begin. 

Port Authority

The current terminal opened in 1950 and has undergone several upgrades over the years, but—before the pandemic—is unable to handle the volume, with 186 gates, 20 bus lines, 17 public bathrooms, and 260,000 passengers a day. Over the years the Port has put $100 million into renovations, including new bathrooms, LED lights, and replacing 60-70% of the ceiling.

John Oliver dubbed it "The single worst place on Planet Earth." and commuters told WNYC’s Jim O’Grady “if hell had a hell, that would be it." 

“This is a vital link for the city of New York, and the bus is one of the most flexible instruments of commutations, unlike fixed rail it can adapt to new developments,” Mitchell Moss, director of The NYU Rudin Center for Transportation, told Gothamist. “This is an intelligent and vital project for the future of the city and the region.”

The Port Authority hopes the new terminal will open by 2031. 

Port Authority Bus Terminal