NEW YORK — The Port Authority wants to tear down its Midtown bus terminal and replace it with a new facility that could handle tens of thousands of additional riders each day.
Though the existing terminal is 70 years old, it's hard to find anyone who thinks it's a piece of history worth preserving.
And officials have heard the jokes, as Port director Rick Cotton read a punchline from comedian John Oliver, who called it the "single worse place on planet Earth."
"This kind of scorn," Cotton said, "not undeserved."
After weighing 30 different proposals over the years, the Port Authority decided to construct a new terminal on top of the current one, instead of building a new one further west.
"You can simply tear the old building down — no one will miss it, by the way — and you can build a normal building from the bottom up," Cotton said.
Before the pandemic, about 250,000 bus riders used the terminal every weekday. But the number of passengers has fallen 65% since the pandemic erupted in March.
The new terminal would have a capacity about one third greater than the current terminal.
Though a new bus terminal will primarily serve New Jersey commuters, it would help the city in one way: as a new storage area that can take buses off the street. That includes interstate carriers, like Bolt Bus, that pick up and drop off passengers at the curb.
"Both of those elements are key responses to the community, in terms of having the bus terminal itself not contribute, to the extent it currently does, to congestion, to pollution, and to impose on the neighborhood immediately surrounding the bus terminal," Cotton said.
Port Authority officials declined to put a price tag on it, but previous estimates have ranged up to $10 billion.
To finance it, the Port Authority would provide $3 billion from its capital program, sell air rights for the construction of four high-rises, and ask the city not to tax developers building on Port Authority land. Federal aid also would be needed.
Officials said the new terminal could as long as a decade to complete.
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