Changes at Port Authority Bus Terminal easing gridlock?
BY CHRISTOPHER MAAG
STAFF WRITER |
THE RECORDFor months this summer, the Port Authority Bus Terminal was so crowded and NJ Transit Bus 163 to Paramus often ran so late that Robert Celikbas rarely made it home in time to put his baby to bed.“It was sad. I never saw my daughter,” said Celikbas, 34, an accountant in Manhattan who started looking for jobs in New Jersey to avoid commuting through the terminal.
In the last few weeks, though, something has changed. Lines inside the terminal became shorter. The 163 started leaving on time. And Celikbas now spends an hour and a half at home every night with his 7-month-old daughter.
“I don’t know how they did it,” he said. “But this is definitely better.”
After years of growing congestion — and frustration — at the midtown Manhattan bus station, gridlock reached crisis proportions this summer. Buses were late, lines of commuters snaked around the building, and commuters became enraged.
Officials from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the building on Eighth Avenue between 40th and 42nd streets, and NJ Transit, which operates 70 percent of the buses using the terminal, promised immediate changes. A new order started on Sept. 15 that included adding personnel to manage traffic and to redirect bus drivers as needed. Its focus: Keep those buses rolling.
“As long as we keep buses moving through the building, that’s the key to the whole thing,” said Mike Kilcoyne, deputy general manager of bus operations for NJ Transit.
The results, while preliminary, have been dramatic. The number of buses passing though the terminal every weekday evening is up 23 percent, said Cedrick Fulton, director of tunnels, bridges and terminals for the Port Authority.
Customer complaints in the last two weeks of September, just after the new system started, were 50 percent lower than for the comparable period a year earlier, said Nancy Snyder, a spokeswoman for NJ Transit.