Port Authority Bus Terminal to Receive Multi-Billion-Dollar Overhaul in Midtown, Manhattan

The new Port Authority Bus Terminal.

New renderings reveal a total overhaul of Port Authority Bus Terminal that would modernize and brighten the notoriously blighted Midtown transit hub. The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey recently announced a $10 billion renovation planned to begin in 2024 and complete around 2031, and is expected to be built without the need to expand beyond the current boundaries of the terminal, which is located on two parcels of land between Eighth and Ninth Avenues and West 40th and 42nd Streets. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo praised the much-needed transformation of the site in the hopes of becoming a “world-class transportation hub worthy of New York.” No announcement has been made on the architect for the project.

Alongside the vision are bigger ramps and a 1 million-square-foot bus storage and staging building rising four stories high between Ninth and Tenth Avenues. This would act as a temporary bus terminal while demolition and construction of the new 2-million-square-foot, five-story transportation hub occurs.

Below is a preliminary rendering spotted on Port Authority’s website with a view looking north on Eighth Avenue on West 40th Street in the afternoon. Double-height floor-to-ceiling glass with a curved corner are conceptually depicted.

The new Port Authority Bus Terminal.

The upgraded complex is planned to yield 160 bus gates and increase capacity for buses and people by 40 percent, as well as devote parking spaces for buses and accommodate a new fleet of electric buses. Topping the superstructure would be a three-acre public green space. The last major component are four new towers spaced across around the facility that will be made possible with $3 billion in air rights sales coming from the Port Authority’s 2017-2026 capital plan, and possible assistance from federal infrastructure programs.

Below are several photographs from the past couple years that show the scale of Port Authority Bus Terminal from above and over the surrounding neighborhood.

The Port Authority Bus Terminal. Photo by Michael Young

The Port Authority Bus Terminal. Photo by Michael Young

The ramps of the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Photo by Michael Young

Standing atop the southern parking space of the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Photo by Michael Young

The ramps of the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Photo by Michael Young

The ramps of the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Photo by Michael Young

The Port Authority Bus Terminal was originally constructed for $24 million in 1950 as one rectangular full-block building with a symmetrical Art-Deco inspired exterior made of warm-colored brick walls and an open-air parking space for cars on top. The terminal received its first expansion in the 1960s with a three-story parking garage, followed by the construction of the north wing in the late 1970s that increased the floor area by 50 percent to 1.5 million square feet and remains so to this day.

However, these additions shrouded the original façade in a dark, imposing exterior of metal, and didn’t address the escalating problems within, including poor lighting, confusing departure and arrival schedules, and overcrowding lines. These substandard conditions have also given rise to problems of crime and homeless encampments. All of these issues have cemented the bus terminal’s reputation as one of New York City’s most hated places to traverse. The interior look hasn’t changed that much with only superficial touch-ups added over the years and occasional seasonal decorations.

The ground floor of the northern wing. Photo by Michael Young

The numerous escalators and fluorescent lighting. Photo by Michael Young

The numerous escalators and fluorescent lighting. Photo by Michael Young

The waiting area on the third floor in the northern wing. Photo by Michael Young

It will be quite the challenge for construction to proceed on the busy hub without interrupting its operations. For now it’s a waiting game until the first signs of activity are spotted.

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TFC Horizon

58 Comments on "Port Authority Bus Terminal to Receive Multi-Billion-Dollar Overhaul in Midtown, Manhattan"

  1. David in Bushwick | February 1, 2021 at 8:10 am | Reply

    I can attest this bus terminal is very confusing to navigate despite many times using it. Hopefully the main entry ceiling in the top rendering won’t be real wood as it will darken and get dingy very quickly. The north wing main hall is classic 70s design and it’s almost a shame to lose that.

    • > The north wing main hall is classic 70s design and
      > it’s almost a shame to lose that.

      Almost 🙂

      No tears shed here….

  2. I’d say the Port Authority building in Manhattan may be outdated, but it’s hardly “blighted.” Of course my perspective is that of someone who moved to NYC in 1980 when it was being completed and seeing it unveiled as a massive improvement. My feeling is that it has been well maintained and as “bus terminal” it’s far better than any I’ve seen. I wonder where there are better.

    • Have you even used the PABT since the 1980s? It’s literally cramped and falling apart.

      Blighted means to be a badly damaged or deteriorated condition. The PABT fits the definition perfectly in my (dictionary) book.

    • See the Salesforce Transit Center in SF. It’s an exorbitantly expensive, extremely beautiful bus station that hopes to be a High Speed Train Terminal some day.

  3. Looks like a classy upgrade to mental illness and homeless facility

  4. With a new Federal Administration in place, while we are overhauling the Port Authority we also need to consider the health of the City.
    The powers that be need to mandate all-electric buses for inter-state commuter hubs such as this,
    both to create American jobs and to improve the health of our comunities.
    This place is an emissions hell-hole that is poisoning us….

    • David in Bushwick | February 1, 2021 at 10:46 am | Reply

      Great idea! China, right now, has nearly 500,000 electric buses on the road. NYC has just a handful of clean, electric buses. Although they cost a bit more than diesel versions, they cost much less to run and maintain.
      Waiting until 2040 for an all-electric bus fleet, citywide or interstate, is ridiculous and unnecessary. China already proves that.

    • All mandating electric does it outsource the air pollution from generating that electricity to someone else. What a terribly misguided attempt to virtue-signal.

  5. This project is designed backwards – their focus on replacing the facility with just a more efficient building lacks imagination. For NJ transit, and other regional bus routes, a facility in NJ with a rail upgrade to midtown would be far more efficient and cheaper. Two options for location: Secaucus Junction, and the swampland at the conjunction of rt 3 and I95 in Secaucus. Both have ample land for a bus depot, and are integrated into the existing transit network.

    The swamp at the intersection has always felt like a missed opportunity for improvements to transit efficiency as the buses begin their long queue to the port from this point and move at a relatively slow pace for the next 15 minutes or more (especially when one invariably gets stuck). Building a facility here takes advantage of the road network already being relatively efficient at funneling transit to a key node. Downside is that it’s just a more efficient way of optimizing today’s flow, not integrating the wider rail network, leading to Secaucus Junction..

    Secaucus Junction offers existing rail access to Penn Station, but would need upgrading to support any increased passenger flow, perhaps use the money for the mythical gateway access project to build an additional tube and kill all birds with this stone. This would also be a good candidate for the 7 train extension to bring bus (and train) commuters a more efficient means to connect with the east side and rapid connections to all lines between Times Square and Grand Central.

    • Excellent points

      A visit (ahem) “across the pond” (Europe) shows far more connected thinking with respect to mass transit: often local rail, high speed train, airport, taxi, private transportation options are consolidated ALL UNDER ONE ROOF. And, facilitates are designed to permit the seamless transfer from one mode of transport to another.

      Our buses are hopeless antiquated designs — lacking proper handicapped access. Within stations, ramps and stairs are impediments to the physically disabled and elderly. Subway options — without wheelchair spaces, fold up chairs to accommodate luggage and other oddly sized items — fail to lend themselves to use by little more than the most able

      Too many transportation solutions are design by & for the ablebodied with little thought to seniors, children, the disabled and little else beyond the simply moving bodies from one place to another.

      Time for change

  6. Put that money towards the homeless problem, sanitation for cleaner streets and improve our lives. We don’t need a fancy bus stop. We need better quality of life

  7. Very nice concept and finally giving NYC a world class looking terminal.

  8. No mention of the PA’s design/CM team…what firms are involved?

  9. WOW,

    I had to read this article twice…
    $10 BILLION ? for a renovated bus terminal? that will take 7+ years to complete!!? Wonder if when it is finished if there will be a need for buses? I can’t imagine how New Yorker’s will deal with all that construction?
    Non-stop demolition, digging, banging and beep-beep-beep!

    Imagine if that money was used to upgrade the bridges and highways (freeways in CA ?),in NY instead? ?

  10. They really missed an opportunity with the expansion of the Javits Center. This project would now be nearing final completion rather than in the conceptual stage. Also, it could have been incorporated into the ferry terminal and would have made use of the recently proposed High Line extension. More government waste.

  11. It’ll be interesting to see where this goes. But, my first impressions with this project are almost completely positive. The Port Authority Bus Terminal has been in need of this for decades.

  12. No matter how it will be replaced, this is a challenge. With the high cost of land, labor and materials, no matter where you build it in Manhattan, it will take time and patience. I hope the design is open enough on each floor to allow future technologies of busses and cars. I visit NYC all the time and love New Yorkers and their pride in their city.

  13. This is idiotic. We do NOT need 8000 buses a day coming into Manhattan. Tear it down, and DON’T rebuild it. Lease out the land it stands on, plus the land covered by it’s approach ramps, and decks over the Lincoln Tunnel approaches. Use those lease payments to float bonds to extend the #7 train out to NJ. Build stations by the Congress Ave light rail station, the Secaucus Junction NJ Transit rail station, and run it out to the Meadowlands. If NJ Transit feels the need, they could build a big bus station at the Meadowlands.

    Get the PA out of the bus business.

    • Great idea !

    • While I don’t disagree with the idea of extending the 7 out to NJ – unfortunately, this would only serve a fraction of the NJ commuters that come into the PABT.

      There are thousands of people in Jersey City, Union City, West New York, etc. that aren’t close enough to a Light Rail station to easily connect to a potential expansion of the 7 train. For them, I imagine a NJ Transit bus or jitney to Port Authority + transfer on the subway or MTA bus to their final destination would still be faster than trying to incorporate a commute via the 7 train.

    • OneNYersOpinion | February 1, 2021 at 6:31 pm | Reply

      The # 7 Subway will NEVER be expanded to New Jersey. At present, its Manhattan segment is “Local” service (NO Express tracks / platforms). As such, it is over-burdened by current service, and is the lone subway serving Hudson Yards (which has expanded FAR beyond its initial footprint, and Javits Center. Any expansion to NJ would result in forever jammed #7 trains, preventing any significant use by riders to/from Hudson Yards, Times Square, NYPL, Grand Central.

      I’m fully on board with opposing a newer, larger PA Bus Terminal. Really, it is overly accommodating to New Jersey, who forever underbudgets its mass transit needs.

      Buses into Manhattan is a losing proposition, which just becomes worse over time. Building a bigger Bus Terminal is just kicking the problem down the road. Rather, NJ should be weaned off this cheap transit solution that takes up FAR too much Manhattan street real estate.

    • That’s just not going to happen. The plan calls for a western terminal for intercity buses so they won’t be travelling or calling on city streets and most buses will be electric in the future. What’s the big deal? I think we all knew the PABT was always going to be rebuilt in pretty much the same place.

  14. As someone who uses the bus station everday, it’s not the worst place and works for the most part. People just like to hate on it. Yes, its not pretty but like most, my commuter experience is in and out. Could it be cosmetically nicer, sure. However, the entire program needs a radical rethink because the biggest problem is not the look of the station but how much traffic can fit through the tunnels. That is only getting worse and will more so with time. If nothing is going to be done to address that, then a fancy new terminal is just a brand new floor to slouch on when waiting for the all too often tunnel jam to clear and your very late bus to show up.

  15. I’ve envisioned a redesign of Port authority bus terminal for decades now, I would create a whole new suspension bridge at midtown, beautifully integrated into a new Port authority, the bridge could have dedicated bus lanes and alleviate congestion in the Lincoln tunnel, additionally the bridge could have pedestrian crossings that would be like Park spaces, a bridge like nothing the world has ever seen before, it could be the most beautiful bridge in the world, with PATH like rail links and whatever else would serve the needs of both sides of the river, it could be aesthetically and ergonomically synergistic, a redesign has been a long time coming, Penn station and MSG too, both of these locations I would have open up to the outside with green spaces and nicely integrated pedestrian access, etc, etc,(NYC deserves better spaces and designs for such critical hubs)

    • I can see that… In my head… Not actually getting built. The Hudson is a wide river that just too much to invest in a bridge that wouldnt also carry auto traffic. If it was the East river, maybe a different story, but probably not.

  16. We used to use the Port all the time but glad we moved away from NYC years ago.

  17. I thought a bus terminal is supposed to look run down and seedy.

  18. Thanks for this report and the great photos. However, I’d like to point out a contradiction in this article.

    Early on you say, “… expected to be built without the need to expand beyond the current boundaries of the terminal, which is located on two parcels of land between Eighth and Ninth Avenues and West 40th and 42nd Streets.” Just a few lines later, you say there will be “…a 1 million-square-foot bus storage and staging building rising four stories high between Ninth and Tenth Avenues.” Obviously, anything between Ninth and Tenth will NOT be within the current boundaries of the terminal.

    • The wrstern staging structure will be built over some of the current ramp spaghetti to the west of the current terminal. When that is complete it will be used as a temporary terminal until the current is redeveloped. A better explainer for this whole project would be reading about it on the SSP forum.

  19. NYC should take a cue from San Francisco and put recreation on the roof of the new terminal: a green-roof park, domes for tennis and basketball, and maybe a skating rink.

  20. Complete waste of $$$$
    We just spent $4B on Penn Station/Moynihan.
    That was a great investment, and everyone will use it.
    The Port Authority should sell the air rights for $3B and use that for upgrades….. and that’s it

  21. These mediocre plans are a symptom of the decline caused via corruption in New York. This is lipstick on a pig, similar to the Penn Station projects. We used to be able to do better and frankly I think we are better off spending a little bit of money on hiring a full-time security squad to keep the place clean and peaceful and saving the rest for later when the jokers in office now are gone and something worthwhile can be done.

    Regarding bus traffic from New Jersey and out of state – if there are too many buses coming in, set a limit on how many buses can come in. This is not complicated.

  22. The ramps take up more space than the building, and they blight the area, so keep the ramps below street level. Use elevators to move buses to debarking and boarding platforms. Keep first 5 floors tall, light and airy, and make use of the airspace with secure schools, child care and parks. Write zoning laws for the neighborhood by buying up the dilapidated properties and designing safe mini-mall attractions. design affordable housing with community-style amenities, especially health services.

  23. Oh. F*ck. Off. Man.

  24. Build more low low income apts for the disabled and their families more handicaped apts for the disabled population

  25. Have to say that the PABT needs to be rebuilt. That said doing that while needing to keep service is a challenge. Even with the temp terminal the volume is immense. There’s no easy way to do this in the city short of a new tunnel. We know that’s not happening. Just getting Gateway done will be interesting. Homeless is always a problem, one that won’t be addressed by having a new terminal. That though is a policy issue the city doesn’t want to face.

    Whether you like it or not, Buses are a part of the transportation system of the city. Electrics will help with the condition of the new station. But and there’s always a BUT, this wouldn’t work currently for longer haul buses. Like Greyhound going to DC or Boston. Those will be ICE until electrics get much much better range and charging speed.

    In the end this might be the Best Worst Idea they had.

  26. When are they gonna fix the subway system in Ny

  27. Honestly…

    Put the entire thing underground, inclusive of a bus offramps from the Lincoln Tunnel and auction unlimited air rights above to pay for it all.

    Also the volume of busses into Manhattan needs to be cut down. The Lincoln Tunnel gets pretty backed up already. How’s that going to look in twenty years? Rail is the way to go and all the Jersey commuters will just have to learn to do a two-seat transfer.

    I love the idea about electric busses. Part of the reason the existing PABT is so dingy is because of all the emissions. Only allow electric buses into a new PABT. That will greatly help with air quality.

    Last idea is to mandate pay by transponder or license plate and introduce demand pricing for the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels. Make it so there is no more heavy backups but it might cost a private vehicle $50 to enter Manhattan. Seriously, park in Jersey and take the train in people.

  28. Yes yes…all the anti bus terminal sentiment. The success of any city is by it’s ability to make commuting more difficult.

    • Hear! Hear!

      That said, as someone who lives on the far west side near Hudson Yards & the Lincoln Tunnel, what’s missing from this, and in general the entire area development/redevelopment, is far more integrated/coordinated transportation planning at a minimum, or better yet, far more articulated urban planning to address the even worse congestion that’s sure to emerge post-Covid19 pandemic in, and near to, the Lincoln Tunnel, which was built decades ago, but as Hudson Yards matures & the expanded by 40% capacity PABT otherwise appears to remain the same in terms of:

      – tunnel approach/exit roads & ramps
      – 7 train service, which itself is largely limited to crosstown service that requires changing trains & platforms for north-south lines linking The Bronx, Brooklyn, Uptown, Downtown & Staten Island Ferry subway stations.

      Clearly, with the numerous “conventional” high rises & skyscrapers, combined with one of the densest concentrations of “Supertalls” in the entire city (likely to exceed that seen at the World Trade Center cluster where mass transit options vastly exceeds at its core [directly below &/or close by; those who don’t live west of 10th Ave may not realize just how far 10th-11th Ave are from 8th Ave A, C, E subway stations are; or how far Penn Station is – especially during inclement weather; or realize how congested local streets are that makes walking difficult, especially during peak periods when traffic is often gridlocked) far better transportation planning that accounts for the exceptionally high density of Hudson Yards (plus, of course, Javits Convention Center) 5-10 years from now & the increased traffic (vehicular, pedestrian & other types such as bicycles, etc.) from vastly expanded interstate/intercity public trans facilities in the area (PABT & Penn Station) is a must.

      Sure, Congestion Pricing may finally take effect to somewhat mitigate already overloaded streets in the area.

      And with implementation of Congestion Pricing, so too, additional resources to upgrade/expand public transit.

      But, in the end, the question is:

      If we’re talking about expanding PABT capacity by 40%, but there’s no corresponding plan to deal with the overall existing infrastructure such as overburdened local streets that already cannot handle traffic (pre-pandemic, of course) to/from the Lincoln Tunnel when Hudson Yards development is still in its infancy, how exactly is adding 40% more buses (electric or not) going to work in 10 years’ time if the limited 7 train subway option remains unchanged & local streets remain unchanged, while the density of development, the size of Javits Center & other development near/adjacent to Hudson Yards occurs while the capacity of the Lincoln Tunnel unchanged?

      Just wondering.

  29. Correcting/clarifying my comments above, plus additional points:

    …how exactly is adding 40% more buses (electric or not) going to work in 10 years’ time if the (exceptionally) limited 7 train subway option remains unchanged & local streets remain unchanged, while the density of Hudson Yards’ development increases exponentially, the size of Javits Center is vastly increased & a significant amount of other high rise/high density development near/adjacent to Hudson Yards occurs all while the capacity of the Lincoln Tunnel also remains unchanged?

    Just wondering.

    Yeah, good luck with that.

    Of course, sounds about right for how misguided urban planning (missing/lack thereof, that is) is not just here in NYC, but in our country overall.

    I suppose the fact that King Cuomo is talking about “upgrading” & expanding the capacity of PABT by 40% without any discussion about its impact on already overburdened local streets that will only become far more overburdened as the area is radically transformed from its formerly vastly underutilized/underdeveloped, super low density open air Long Island Railroad train storage yard to one of the highest density areas of NYC really shouldn’t be all that surprising to those of us who closely follow King Cuomo’s history of monument building (say, for example, his insistence on cramming down our throats his preposterous, patronage mill, backwards AirTrain boondoggle at LaGuardia Airport that most well regarded transportation experts agree is flat out stupid & inefficient [especially when compared to most “world class cities” that have REAL mass transit links to/from their airports] shouldn’t be all that surprising.

    However, King Cuomo’s failure to address this glaring problem doesn’t mean there isn’t much else that must be addressed in terms of NYC, NY State & NJ creating a “Master Plan” that coordinates/integrates the vastly increased area density before any expansion of PABT gets underway.

    Otherwise, if local residents & NJ residents think things are bad now, we/they ain’t seen nothing yet as more & more buildings in & around Hudson Yards are completed AND 40% MORE buses are added into the gridlock that already exists not just during “traditional” weekday rush hours – but also from mid-afternoon until late evenings on weekends & major holidays, too.

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