Day after day, they go to hell and back. The make their way through the dark and dreary space, wearily pushing their way through crowds if people who share their plight,anxious to get out of this place as quickly as they can – but knowing that in just a few hours they’ll be forced to endure this again.
They’re New Jersey commuters. And they’re in the notorious Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan.
The comparison to Hades is not much of a stretch. One commuter, a Hoboken resident who has been using the bus terminal for 16 years, describes his evening commute, when he inevitably gets stuck in line for about 10 minutes right in front of the Men’s Room. “If hell had a hell, that would be it.”
The nearly 65-year-old terminal can’t accommodate the 7,500 buses that use it every weekdays, causing traffic jams and pollution in the surrounding streets, Inside, it’s not any better, as the dimly lit and poorly ventilated building is, at best, a place where people dread going in and can’t wait to get out.
The Port Authority has distant plans to sell the “air rights” to a developer who would build a tower – and a new bus terminal. Meanwhile, the agency’s board recently approved spending $90 million on basic improvements, including upgraded air conditioning and ventilation, but commuters won’t be seeing even those basic improvements for a while.
Read and listen to the full report by reporter Jim O’Grady of WNYC, a partner of NJ Spotlight, on the dismal state of affairs at the Port Authority Bus Terminal .