Happy New Year! I plan to send a broader note out soon with reflections on 2016 and plans for 2017. But I wanted to send this out to let you know about current discussions concerning a new Port Authority Bus Terminal. Don't get your hopes up too high yet... if there are 100 steps that need to be taken to see it finished, we are just at step 7. But, still notable. It will take a lot of advocacy to get this moving, but it is starting now...I'll let you know when it is your turn to get involved!
So, if you wait in a long line for the bus, or see someone who does and sympathizes with them, then please read...Otherwise, no need!
Today I attended the Port Authority of NY & NJ Special Board meeting to hear the presentation and introduction of their 10 year capital plan. As expected, the introduction of the $30 Billion plan was approved by an all to 1 vote. There will be two public hearings - on January 31st in NY and on February 6th in Jersey City - from 5-8 to get feedback from the public on the plan. I will plan to attend the one on the 6th and I hope you can join.
Of note, almost all of the commissioners, including Chairman Degnan, during their deliberations, spoke of their support for a new PABT. And in fact the 10 year capital plan includes $3.5 Billion earmarked for a new terminal. That being said, we do not know if this will be enough, or when it will be started.
Our interests were well represented at the meeting by NJ State Senator Loretta Weinberg (Bergen County, Senate Majority Leader), NJ State Senator Bob Gordon(Bergen County, Majority Conference Leader), and NJ Assemblyman John Wisniewski (Middlesex County, Deputy Speaker) who all made strong positions about how critical a new Bus Terminal was to BOTH NJ and NY residents. The link below provides some color around what they said. I had the lucky opportunity as an elected official to sit amongst them and am looking forward to connecting more with them on this issue that is so important to our broader community.
And, I actually testified just after they did. Although I did not have the same force as they, what I believe I was able to do was make a connection of the real impact of our current situation, at the ground level, at the resident level. Going forward, I am hoping to be just one of many voices making this appeal... (hint hint)
PS - The following were my remarks:
"Happy New Year and thank you all for your service to the residents of NY and NJ. I am here as a 22 year resident and a recently elected official of Hoboken NJ. When I ran for election in the fall of 2015, I knocked on many doors and I asked people if there was an issue that would get them to come out to vote. And one of the top issues was expanded sources of reliable transportation. So that is what has prompted me to come today. To engage in your process and advocate for my community.
And with that, I want to appeal to you to support a near term focus and adoption of a plan to replace or restore the Port Authority Bus Terminal with the goal of expanding its capacity.
Hoboken, like many other communities in both NY and NJ that border Manhattan, is seeing significant population growth with no similar growth in capacity of our arterial transportation modes. As I am sure you are aware, we - Hoboken - compete with Jersey City for allocation of PATH trains, having lost one train per hour last year as Jersey City has seen even greater population growth than Hoboken. And this will continue.
As I am sure you have heard from representatives from other towns reliant upon NJ Transit buses, in Hoboken, bus lines are long with commuters often waiting 30-45 minutes in line for availability. We are told we cannot increase the number of buses because there is no additional capacity at the Port Authority. And my guess, not unlike what has occurred with Jersey City and the PATH, that at some point we will also be competing for our current allocation at the Bus Terminal as communities around us continue to grow.
Much of our population growth is driven by the increasingly lack of affordability for housing in Manhattan. And this trend will only continue and escalate as we see urbanization continue. People are being priced out and are flocking to the next best available alternative. Even Hoboken, like Brooklyn, is seeing significant rises in housing costs which has driven further development and population growth.
Why this is all relevant - to me, and I hope to you - is it shows how connected our two states are and how really we are just one large community that share multi modes of transportation. NJ transit and the MTA are really just part of this large network that links via Port Authority assets. NY and NJ each rely on each others populations to support its businesses and infrastructure. I have heard that some may think the Bus Terminal is a NJ Project, because it mainly serves NJ residents. But these residents come to NY to work, to attend Broadway shows and other cultural events, to visit friends and family, to shop and most importantly to spend money in NY. And for the few non NJ residents who use the buses.... Well we welcome them to come spend money in NJ! Hoboken in particular...
Thank you for the opportunity to speak. And I'm looking forward to continuing to engage in this process and bring more NJ voices into the discussion. Happy New Year."