NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Commuters have been saying there is trouble at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown and it makes for a miserable ride.
But as CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported Wednesday, there is at least a little bit of good news on the horizon.
An estimated 250,000 people use the bus terminal on an average day, and many have said the experience is to be endured rather than to be enjoyed.
“It’s just ridiculous, to tell you the truth,” said bus commuter Jimbo McLaughlin.
“I would say unpleasant,” said bus commuter Francesca Romolo.
The last major bus terminal upgrade was in 1979 – an era when the terminal and the area around it comprised a seedy district known for crime, prostitution and vagrancy.
But 35 years later, trouble remained in the physical building as oscillating electric fans supplemented the spotty air conditioning, and ceiling panels were falling down – exposing pipes and wiring.
The method for repairing one leak involved a jerry-rigged setup to direct the water through a black rubber hose into a garbage can.
On the stairway leading to Gate 205, concrete was crumbling. There was garbage sitting on top of a fluorescent light fixture in the stairwell, moisture dripping down onto the light fixture, and dust gathering as well.
In the evening, riders endure long lines and delays, because many buses must stage in New Jersey due to a lack of parking in Midtown.
“Come home from hard day’s work, you know, want to go home,” commuter McLaughlin said. “You go by the schedule, and the next thing you know, you’re delayed, delayed.”
And unlike ground zero and the World Trade Center site, or LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International airports, the bus terminal gets little love from the Port Authority.
The agency has set aside just 0.002 percent of its $27 billion, 10-year capital budget for improvements at the bus terminal.
“This is the entrance to New York City for over 100,000 New Jerseyans,” said New Jersey State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester.)
Sweeney said New Jersey commuters at the terminal are treated like “third class citizens,” WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported.
On Wednesday Sweeney and state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) demanded action at the bus terminal.
And just an hour later, the Port Authority announced it is “repurposing” $90 million additional dollars for improvements there, to start later this year.
Critics said the money is a fraction of what the terminal needs, but it is a start.
For its part, NJ TRANSIT said it is in continuous talks with the Port Authority and has taken steps within its powers to improve passenger and bus flow, Smith reported.
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