RELEASE: Gottheimer Fights to Claw Back Federal Investment for Outdated 1950s Port Authority Bus Terminal Renovation

Calls on the US Department of Transportation to deliver federal investment for the terminal renovation, a critical infrastructure project for the tri-state area. Gottheimer continues fight for mass transit. Key artery for Jersey commuters, national economy

Jun 25, 2024
Press

Above: Gottheimer announces new action to claw back federal investment for renovation of the Port Authority Bus Terminal

NEW YORK, NY — Today, Tuesday, June 25, 2024, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) visited the Port Authority Bus Terminal to call on federal officials to deliver key investment for the terminal’s eight-year, $10-billion renovation project. Twenty percent of the nation’s GDP runs through the Tri-state area. 

Gottheimer urged the Department of Transportation to favorably evaluate the Port Authority Bus Terminal’s application for a Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program loan, a foundational first step to advancing the renovation. Gottheimer helped strengthen the TIFIA program while crafting and helping pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. 

Video of Gottheimer’s remarks here

“We need to take this bus terminal that was built in the 1950s and redesign it for 2024, so it can meet the needs of our Twenty-first century economy. Jersey has changed, the region has changed, and now, we need to update our infrastructure to keep up,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “That’s why I’ve been working so hard in Washington and with our state and local partners here in the tri-state area to reinvigorate our great bus terminal. This new bus terminal will be able to accommodate a thirty percent increase in our region’s commuters by 2040. And, it couldn’t be more needed: the Port Authority estimates that 337,000 passengers per day will pass through this terminal by 2040 – many of them from Jersey. That’s a nearly seventy percent increase from today and an almost five hundred percent jump from when the terminal was built in 1950.”

Gottheimer continued, “It’s why I fought so hard to help craft and pass the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill in 2021, which includes significant investment for buses and projects just like this one. Like others, I realize you need to invest in infrastructure – you can’t just ignore it and hope it will get better on its own.”

“It’s time for the Port Authority to receive the funds necessary to have this structure redone, so that it can continue serving a vital purpose,” said Assemblyman Gary Schaer (LD-36). “So much of our North Jersey economy is dependent upon the success or failure of this project, and Congressman Gottheimer, your leadership has been instrumental in getting where we are today. We need to get that much more further.”

Port Authority Bus Terminal in Dire Need of Repair:

  • As the demand for buses and the region’s population continues to increase, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, which was built in the 1950s, has become overcrowded and outdated.
  • Buses are routinely delayed, and the terminal cannot accommodate passengers with disabilities. 
  • At the time of its construction, Jersey’s population was just 4.8 million, and New York had just under 15 million people. Today, New Jersey has nearly twice as many people. The population of our region continues to grow, and transit just has not kept pace.  
  • On an average weekday, the Port Authority Bus Terminal serves more than 7,200 buses and 200,000 people. 
  • The Port Authority Bus Terminal is the busiest bus terminal in the world. 
  • Twenty-one percent of New Jersey and New York commuters across the Hudson pass through the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
  • After years of advocacy by leaders on both sides of the Hudson including Gottheimer, the Port Authority announced plans to completely renovate the facility to accommodate thirty percent more buses.

Phases and Benefits of the Port Authority Bus Terminal Renovation Include:

  • Between 2024 and 2028, the Port Authority will build new ramps connecting buses to the Lincoln Tunnel and facilities to support bus storage. 
  • From 2029 to 2032, the Port Authority will construct a more modern and sustainable terminal to replace the current building with additional capacity for commerce, housing, and greenspace.
  • With the renovations, the Port Authority Bus Terminal will be able to accommodate a thirty percent increase in our region’s commuters by 2040. Right now, the Port Authority estimates that 337,000 passengers per day will pass through this terminal by 2040 – a nearly seventy percent increase from today and an almost five hundred percent jump from when the terminal was built in 1950.
  • The Port Authority and the Federal Transit Administration currently estimate that this project will generate 6,000 good-paying union jobs, benefitting electricians, carpenters, construction workers, and more. 
  • More people will use the expanded bus service at the Port Authority Bus Terminal to patronize small businesses both in New Jersey and New York.

Gottheimer has long been a supporter of mass transit. In 2021, he worked across the aisle to craft and pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, which will deliver $4.5 billion for public transportation in New Jersey by 2026. As part of that bill, he clawed back $180 million to New Jersey Transit for the new Delco Lead track project, helping reduce track congestion and store approximately 300 rail cars. He also secured a $59 million investment to improve passenger circulation at Newark Penn Station. Finally, because of his strong advocacy in Washington, Gottheimer announced that the federal government will cover the outstanding $6.8 billion costs for the Gateway Program, saving taxpayers’ money across the tri-state area.

Gottheimer was joined by Assemblyman Gary Schaer (LD-36).

Below: Gottheimer announces new action to claw back federal investment for renovation of the Port Authority Bus Terminal

Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery: 

Good morning. It’s great to join you today on this side of the Hudson, here at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. The tri-state area is the epicenter of America’s economy: twenty percent of our country’s GDP runs through this region, and the mass transit system, from our rails to our buses, are critical to making that happen. 

On an average weekday, the Port Authority Bus Terminal serves more than 7,200 buses and 200,000 people. As you can see and hear, it is the busiest bus terminal in the world. I’m a huge supporter of mass transit, and I’m incredibly proud to have the Port Authority in our region. But, there’s a reason why the Port Authority Bus Terminal isn’t appearing on any postcards or Instagram posts. It’s in dire need of repair. It’s not exactly Shangri-la in there. After more than twenty years of delays and debate, time has run out. We need to do everything we can to renovate this terminal. 

Today, I’m excited to announce new action that I’m taking to help get the new Port Authority Bus Terminal renovated and moving, so families and commuters can pull into the terminal by 2032. I’m calling on the U.S. Department of Transportation to utilize the dollars, without delay,  that Congress has already allocated for critical infrastructure projects for the Port Authority Bus Terminal, one of the most important transit hubs in the entire region.

Nearly every day, whether it’s on NJTransit, Greyhound, or Coach, twenty-one percent of all New Jersey and New York commuters pass through this bus terminal to get to work, medical appointments, school, and to see their families. For many folks, in many communities, this is their only mass transit option, if they’re lucky enough to even have mass transit in their town. There is no rail or subway. Demand for buses from Jersey to New York City just keeps on growing. 

The Port Authority Bus Terminal was built when President Truman was in office — just five years after World War II. Minus a few band-aids that we stuck on it in the eighties, the terminal has been virtually untouched. At the time of its construction, Jersey’s population was just 4.8 million, and New York had just under 15 million people. Today, New Jersey has nearly twice as many people. The population of our region continues to grow, and transit just has not kept pace.  This terminal was designed for a smaller region and quite literally, smaller buses. Yes, back when the terminal opened, intercity buses were an average of seven feet shorter!

So, as you can imagine, the bus terminal is bursting at the seams. More people are relying on the same few buses to get work, see their doctor, go to dinner, and get home. Buses here are routinely delayed because there’s too much traffic trying to enter and exit the terminal’s narrow driveway. Buses have fanned out across city streets to pick up and drop off passengers. There isn’t enough space to stage and store buses during off-hours and inclement weather. And there isn’t the proper space to accommodate customers with disabilities.

The bottom line: we need to take this bus terminal that was built in the 1950s and redesign it for 2024, so it can meet the needs of our Twenty-first century economy. Jersey has changed, the region has changed, and now, we need to update our infrastructure to keep up.

It is absolutely essential for our entire region — New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut — that we have quality, reliable bus transit. We’ve seen just how important bus options are after last week’s heat delays on Amtrak and NJ transit trains. Thousands of commuters found themselves stranded in Penn Station because of Amtrak’s overhead wires, which power electric trains, overheated and malfunctioned. 

In an ideal world, these commuters would be able to hop a subway over to the Port Authority Bus Terminal and get home on the bus. Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough room at the terminal to accommodate the buses they need on an average day, let alone extra buses and commuters. 

For centuries, New Jersey and New York have had a rock-solid, cooperative relationship at the Port Authority. We come together on big infrastructure projects — like the new terminal at Newark Airport — because we recognize that infrastructure investment pays dividends for our families and the entire nation’s economy. The same is true when it comes to the Port Authority Bus Terminal. 

That’s why I’ve been working so hard in Washington and with our state and local partners here in the tri-state area to reinvigorate our great bus terminal. It’s why I fought so hard to help craft and pass the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill in 2021, which includes significant investment for buses and projects just like this one. Like others, I realize you need to invest in infrastructure – you can’t just ignore it and hope it will get better on its own.

Here’s the good news: we can fix what’s broken. Port Authority has a plan in place to breathe new life into this terminal, which is great, and now we just have to get them what they need to move it forward. 

In February, the Port Authority announced a sweeping $10 billion, eight-year renovation plan for the Bus Terminal that will increase bus capacity by thirty percent! And it will drive the terminal right into the Twenty-first century – modern, innovative, and beautiful, with new stores and restaurants. Something we can all be proud to put on our Instagram feeds. 

As part of the redesign, the new terminal will fit longer buses that can bring more commuters to New York and be redesigned to accommodate cleaner, electric buses. Yes, it will be able to handle the fleet of electric buses on the road now and those coming around the corner – all incentivized by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and Inflation Reduction Act.  

We’ll have a new facility to stage and store buses, more ramps to get buses to the Lincoln Tunnel, and three new developments near the terminal that’ll bring new commerce, housing, and green space to Manhattan. We’re going to see this development move in two phases. Between this year and 2028, the Port Authority will build new ramps and facilities to support bus storage. Then, from 2029 to 2032, we’ll construct a more modern and sustainable terminal to replace the current building. 

As I mentioned, with these expansions, this new bus terminal will be able to accommodate a thirty percent increase in our region’s commuters by 2040. And, it couldn’t be more needed: the Port Authority estimates that 337,000 passengers per day will pass through this terminal by 2040 – many of them from Jersey. That’s a nearly seventy percent increase from today and an almost five hundred percent jump from when the terminal was built in 1950. We need to make sure they’re able to get in and out of the city quickly and easily. 

I’m also hopeful the expanded capacity will increase transit options for our region. During our five-year fight over the Congestion Tax, I heard over and over that the solution was more trains and more buses. I agree, we need more trains and buses. But, we can’t just store trains and buses in our imagination. We need real-life, brick-and-mortar bus storage and staging facilities, which the Port Authority is lacking. And we need the Gateway Train Tunnel to run more trains, which I’ll talk more about in a moment. 

Because of the limited storage capacity at the terminal, if I wanted to take the bus from my home in Wyckoff to the city – I only have six options, the latest of which leaves at 7:29 am. That just doesn’t work for working parents who need to drop their kids off at school. We can use the extra capacity that this renovation will generate to run buses later into the morning to help more people get to work.

This terminal renovation won’t just benefit commuters. The Port Authority and the Federal Transit Administration currently estimate that this project will generate 6,000 good-paying union jobs, benefitting our electricians, carpenters, construction workers, and more. More people will use the expanded bus service here at the terminal to patronize our small businesses. 

And maybe, we’ll be able to get some Jersey vendors into the new commercial spaces being built here at the Port, so we can finally bring some quality pizza and bagels to this side of the Hudson! In all seriousness, even though this terminal will be located in New York, it’ll have a monumental impact on our state, our economy, and our residents.

I’ve been working around-the-clock in Washington to ensure we have the funding we need to support the Port Authority renovation. We’re going to need a mix of federal grants and state and local revenue to cover the costs and get this terminal finished by 2032 and keep taxes down. Every cent matters, and we need funding on steady ground to make sure this project doesn’t fall behind.

As I noted, as Co-Chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, I was incredibly proud to work across the aisle to craft and pass the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill in 2021, a once-in-a-century investment to help build the new Gateway Train Tunnel, fix our crumbling roads, bridges, and NJ Transit, address climate resiliency, and help get lead out of our children’s drinking water. 

As part of that bill, we helped strengthen and expand an essential funding program: the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act or TIFIA Loan program — which gives our municipalities low-interest loans for high-intensity infrastructure projects. It’s critical to getting this project across the finish line, which will be financed through a mix of private and public dollars, Port Authority investment, tax abatements, air right sales, you name it. 

The Port Authority officials are seeking a $1 billion TIFIA loan, and I’m doing everything possible to advance their application. This week, I’m sending a letter to the Department of Transportation, urging them to favorably evaluate the Port Authority’s proposal. This loan is a foundational first step to getting this project moving, and I’m urging Secretary Buttigieg and the Department of Transportation to act quickly and deliver this investment for our region. 

At the same time, we’re working hard to claw back even more resources from Washington to the Port, so we can avoid any tax burdens on local residents. After all, twenty percent of the nation’s GDP runs through this region. It just makes sense.

I’m confident that I’ll be joining you right back here in a few years, cutting the ribbon on the brand new terminal. 

Two weeks ago, I visited the Tonnelle Avenue site of the Gateway Train Tunnel Program in North Bergen, where engineers are constructing a new roadway bridge that’ll clear a path for the Northeast Corridor rail line. We just received great news that the federal government will cover the outstanding $6.8 billion costs for the Gateway Program, the result of my strong advocacy in Washington. This historic investment will save our local taxpayers their hard-earned money and ensure the project gets completed on-time. It’s a win-win.

Finally, I’m working to improve rail service. As part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, I clawed back $180 million to New Jersey Transit for the new Delco Lead track project, helping us reduce track congestion and store approximately 300 rail cars. I also secured a $59 million investment to improve passenger circulation at Newark Penn Station. These dollars will go a long way to help our hardworking commuters who ride the train every morning.

Finally, I want to end with a thank you. I’m grateful to the outstanding leaders who have fought tooth and nail over the years in Jersey, in Trenton, in Albany, and Manhattan to make this happen for decades. This renovation would not be moving forward without them. I want to thank the Port Authority, and especially Chairman O’Toole and the Jersey Commissioners, Christian Bollwage, George Helmy, Joseph Kelley, Kevin McCabe, and Michelle Richardson for their leadership. 

And I especially want to thank and recognize Senator Loretta Weinberg, who represented Bergen County in the New Jersey State Senate, and fought for meaningful investments in public transit. I’ve coined this renovation the Weinberg Strategy because without her steadfast advocacy and strategic leadership over the years, I don’t think this renovation — or any of the improvements we’ve made to NJ Transit over the past decade — would be possible. We have a responsibility to build on her great legacy and make sure we get this renovation done, on time and on budget.

I will always work to make public transit more affordable and accessible for Jersey. This new Port Authority project — and the billions of dollars in other infrastructure investments that I’m helping secure for transit — will help us achieve that goal.

By working together to invest in our public transit, New Jersey and New York, Democrats and Republicans, I know that here, in the greatest country in the world, our best days will always be ahead of us.

Thank you. May God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

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