By Larry Penner
Remember over three years ago—December 2012—when the NYC officials and developers who broke ground for the new Hudson Yards project, which is to be built over the Long Island Rail Road Westside storage yard between 10th and 12th avenues in Manhattan, were all smiles?
Transit riders and taxpayers are still not happy. The existing 42nd Street Port Authority Bus Terminal is antiquated, lacking sufficient capacity to deal with current and future needs. Upon completion of their morning a.m. rush hour trips, hundreds of buses have to “dead head” back to New Jersey for midday storage. Then, they have to make another return trip in the afternoon back to New York City for outbound evening service.
Eliminating this dead heading of buses would open up additional capacity for the already overcrowded Lincoln Tunnel. Relocating this facility to the Hudson Yards site would have provided the ideal solution. There would be the ability to expand capacity for new bus services. Hundreds of buses could lay over in Manhattan, saving the costs of both fuel and deadheading to and from New Jersey.
Intermodal connections would have become available for the Long Island Rail Road; New Jersey Transit; Amtrak; No. 1, 2, 3, 7, A, E and C subways; and ferry services at Pier 79 on West 38th Street, along with the 34th Street Bus Rapid Transit route and other local bus services. Long term, there is also the possibility of future connections with Metro North. This is based upon implementation of providing Metro North direct access to Penn Station.
These new services would use existing Amtrak connections via the Bronx and Manhattan westside and or Bronx/Queens via the Hellgate Bridge at a later date to begin service. Relocation of the Port Authority Bus Terminal to this new location would also complement the multibillion-dollar ongoing Farley Building project. This project will convert the old Post Office to a new Amtrak Passenger Station as part of the Penn Station complex.
Reopening the old Hilton passageway (which was abandoned in the early 1970’s) could provide a direct underground connection from the Long Island Rail Road at 7th Avenue to Herald Square at Broadway. This provides easy access to the B, D, F, M, R, N, Q and W subway lines along with PATH.
Imagine the possibilities for Queens residents transferring from the Long Island Rail Road at Penn Station to access connecting ferry services, New Jersey Transit, Amtrak, PATH, 14 subway lines and possibly Metro North at a later date, as well as with all the bus routes currently operating out of the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Virtually all the connections would be underground indoors, and easily walkable within minutes between services. With climate controlled facilities, passengers would be warm in the winter and cool in the summer. No one would be exposed to either rain, wind or snow. This would have been the greatest intermodal transportation facility, moving more riders utilizing public transportation than any in America!
You have to ask if there are enough potential tenants to fill all the new office space being created at Hudson Yards. Prospective businesses have many other options. They include numerous existing vacancies along with new office space under construction or planned for at the World Trade Center, rezoning of midtown East, other Manhattan locations, downtown Brooklyn, Hunters Point/Long Island City along with others scattered around Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Staten Island, Town of North Hempstead, Nassau County, other surrounding suburbs and across the river in New Jersey. The same holds true for new residential units.
The current Hudson Yards project has been heavily subsidized by taxpayers, commonly known as corporate welfare. Between direct government funding, low-interest below-market-rate loans, long term tax exemptions, favorable eminent domain and free infrastructure improvements, the bill to taxpayers in the end could end up greater than the so-called public benefits. Have any of these “favors” been granted to the Hudson Yards developers in exchange for “Pay to Play” campaign contributions accepted by public officials who were in a position to “deliver” these “gifts?
Fast forward to today. The PANYNJ now has to find $10 billion for a new 42nd Street Bus Terminal. They could have built a new facilty at Hudson Yards for billions less.