NEWS AND ISSUES
January 20, 2011
Mr. Christopher Ward
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
225 Park Avenue, 15th Floor
New York, NY 10013
Dear Executive Director Ward:
I have written to you in the past to strongly advocate for and express my full support for a proposed bus parking and staging facility ("Bus Garage") for buses using the Lincoln Tunnel and the Port Authority Bus Terminal (PABT), which are located in my district. Indeed, a recent report by the Mayorfs Midtown Citizenfs Committee found a deficit of hundreds of spaces for bus parking, and noted that the demand for such spaces will increase significantly as additional commuter buses compensate for trains that would have used the Access to the Regionfs Core (ARC) rail tunnel. While I was disheartened to hear about the demise of the ARC Project, which I strongly supported, I believe there is an opportunity to enhance public transportation between New Jersey and New York and lessen private automobile traffic on New York City streets if a portion of the funds dedicated to ARC could be reallocated to the development of the long-delayed Bus Garage project.
I know that you stand with me in recognizing the need for a bus garage. Indeed, you stated in response to my May 2008 letter asking the Port Authority to proceed with the project that funding for the Bus Garage was included in the Port Authorityfs 2007-2016 Capital Plan and the Port Authority was working with relevant City agencies on, among other things, examining possible sites. I was heartened by your eloquent acknowledgment that the lack of such a facility creates significant traffic congestion, which in turn adversely impacts public health, pedestrian safety, business efficiency and profitability, and resident and bus driver quality-of-life. The ill effects of buses idling on Hellfs Kitchen streets for hours on end have only been exacerbated in the years since this project was initially conceived. The Bus Garage has since gained the overwhelming support of a wide and diverse coalition, including business leaders, civic and block associations, transportation advocates and elected officials.
In the past, a lack of funds has been cited as the primary impediment to constructing the Bus Garage and I am very aware of the tight budgets and deficits that face all agencies and at every level of government. However, now that the ARC Project has been officially, unfortunately, cancelled, the billions of Tri-state transportation dollars allocated to its construction may provide an opportunity to proceed with construction of the Bus Garage. While I know that the Port Authority has many worthy projects it would like to complete and budget challenges it must address, the Bus Garage deserves to be a top priority for receiving funds that were once slated for ARC because it achieves some of the same key aims.
I would like to reiterate my firm belief that the Bus Garage must house charter and commuter buses and vans in addition to buses which use the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Independent charter and commuter buses and vans have only increased in popularity since the Bus Garage was initially proposed and greatly contribute to traffic congestion in Clinton-Hell's Kitchen, perhaps even more so than the buses that use the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
Everyone agrees on the need for a Bus Garage, and I hope that you concur that it must accommodate charter and commuter buses and vans as well. This is smart public policy and a matter of civic responsibility for all, especially the drivers, Midtown West and Hell's Kitchen residents and businesses, tourists, pedestrians and the list goes on and on. As the Port Authority deliberates how ARC funds will be redistributed, I urge you to promote this critical project.
Thomas K. Duane
New York State Senate
29th Senate District