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Bus Terminal Plan: A Plan to Rebuild the Bus Terminal Everyone Loves to Hate

The website Failed Architecture once declared it New York City’s “most hated building.” John Oliver of “Last Week Tonight” was even more blunt, calling it “the single worst place on Planet Earth.”

That building, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, has long inspired animus among commuters for its leaky ceilings, deteriorating hallways and frustrating layout. But now, a new proposal could usher in an overhaul.

On Thursday, officials unveiled a plan that would rebuild the Midtown bus terminal and reshape the maligned facility into a 21st-century transit hub. The changes could take a decade to complete, but would transform the terminal’s longstanding reputation.

The proposal

The plan would rehabilitate and enlarge the current bus terminal — the busiest in the country. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that operates the terminal, hopes that the new facility would accommodate 1,000 buses during the evening rush hour, up from about 850 today.

Many travelers complain that buses block sidewalks and impede traffic around the terminal, a problem the proposal addresses, calling for the construction of a depot near the main terminal that could handle some buses and provide storage for others.

The project has a “10-year time frame” for completion, according to Rick Cotton, the Port Authority’s executive director.

[Read more about how the proposal came together.]

The costs

The plan comes amid a steep decline in the Port Authority’s financial condition. The project could cost as much as $10 billion, but the pandemic has wiped out revenue for now.

The Port Authority is counting on federal aid, but the proposal has to pass environmental reviews before competing for that funding. The agency also plans to sell development rights and cut a deal with the city to allow developers to substitute payments toward the project for local taxes.

Past challenges

The plan for the terminal has been in the works for more than seven years, according to my colleagues Patrick McGeehan and Winnie Hu, who cover transportation and infrastructure.

Previous proposals have drawn the ire of community leaders at times, and the issue of funding has led to heated debates that jeopardized aims of a timely renovation.

Other projects

Thursday’s announcement followed the recent opening of the Moynihan Train Hall at Pennsylvania Station, a $1.6 billion endeavor with glass skylights and soaring ceilings. Several other projects to revitalize the city’s tattered infrastructure are also in the works, including overhauls of La Guardia and Kennedy Airports.

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