Air rights over the Port Authority Bus Terminal will be part of a master plan for the facility.

NEW YORK CITY-At a New York Building Congress event in 2008, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey‘s then-executive director, Christopher Ward, joked that some of his friends and relatives assumed the extent of his responsibilities was running the Midtown bus terminal. The authority’s bailiwick is considerably larger than that, but the Port Authority Bus Terminal remains the world’s busiest with 65 million passengers passing through it each year. The current structure’s limitations became apparent in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, among the reasons that the Port Authority’s board has hired two consulting firms to examine the facility’s future.

At its monthly meeting this week, the Port’s board authorized a contract with Kohn Pedersen Fox and Parsons Brinckerhoff to create a comprehensive, long-term plan for the PABT’s future. The two firms will consider options for enhancing and possibly replacing the terminal, a state-of-good-repair investment program, and new bus staging and storage facilities on Manhattan’s West Side to improve bus operations and limit the number of buses idling on city streets.

The master plan that Kohn Pederson Fox and PB will develop is also intended to help integrate the PABT into the development now taking place on the West Side. It will also include the design of a sustainable funding strategy that incorporates participation by the private sector and more equitable funding from carriers operating at the terminal.

Among other things, the plan will focus on developing air rights over both wings of the terminal. A plan to build a 40-story office tower over the terminal was scrapped in 2011 when the designated developer, Vornado Realty Trust, told the Port that its Chinese investment backing for the project had pulled out.

Since the facility accommodates around 8,000 buses and 225,000 travelers each day, the master plan for its future will include options for completing construction there in phases. In a release, the Port says the plan will supplement other ongoing initiatives to support improvements to the terminal and the interstate bus network, among them aggressive marketing to acquire new tenants, a demand forecast and a structural slab assessment.    

“The Midtown Bus Master Plan underscores the Port Authority’s commitment to its customers,” Scott Rechler, CEO of RXR Realty and vice chairman of the Port, says in the release. “By investing in improvements to the Bus Terminal, we will both address current concerns in the surrounding community and plan for future transportation needs and demands for the region.”