New York City’s Midtown Manhattan bus terminal is poised for a multi-billion-dollar makeover aimed at fixing long-standing efficiency issues while also readying the transit hub for a technologically advanced future.
The plan, released Jan. 21 by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, calls for a complete rebuild of the main terminal at its current location to accommodate a nearly 40 % expected increase in capacity for commuter and intercity buses. A new storage and staging facility will replace street-level bus storage lots, and move central pick-up/departure points for intercity buses off adjacent city streets, eliminating a contributor to the neighborhood’s notorious traffic congestion.
Anticipating a continuing shift away from fossil fuels, the new terminal also will be designed to serve 100 % electric bus fleets, with intra-terminal movements aided by autonomous vehicle technology and artificial intelligence-aided traffic management.
All construction, including three acres of new green space and new access ramps to the Lincoln Tunnel portal to New Jersey, will take place on Port Authority-owned property, the agency says. Under the current seven-year phased construction plan, the staging and storage facility will be built first to serve as a temporary terminal while the main facility is demolished and rebuilt. With the project just beginning the process of securing environmental reviews and regulatory approvals, the Port Authority anticipates construction will begin no earlier than 2024.
Located adjacent to the Lincoln Tunnel’s Manhattan entrance, the existing Midtown Bus Terminal was built in the late 1940s and expanded in 1981. The original structure underwent a $52 million seismic upgrade in 2007. Serving more 260,000 people on an average workday prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the facility’s standing as the world’s busiest bus terminal has come with a measure of derision for its difficult interior layout, poor lighting and other attributes typical of near-constant heavy use.
Anticipating a return to pre-pandemic ridership trends, the Port Authority expects regional demand for bus service to increase by 30 % through 2040, when the terminal is projected to handle up to 337,000 passenger trips each weekday.
Alternatives for the terminal have been under study since 2013. The Port Authority’s funding formula for the new plan, estimated to cost as much as $10 billion, includes the sale of development rights for up to four high-rise towers and tapping existing property tax incentive programs. The agency will also look to the federal government for financial help, either via current Federal Transit Administration programs or new infrastructure funding initiatives that may arise under the Biden Administration.