The Solution To Fix Port Authority Bus Terminal

PANYNJ:  Port Authority officials and representatives of New York and New Jersey have agreed on the need for a new West Side bus terminal and endorsed a new expanded, comprehensive planning process, which would include an analysis of potential temporary and additional bus facility sites and how a new bus facility should be integrated with current and future regional transportation assets. All future planning for the project will include significant stakeholder and public input. …

Ideas and input from a panel review of five design competition concepts submitted Aug. 29 as part of the Port Authority’s Design and Deliverability Competition may inform the planning process, which will include a larger universe of planning options to be considered for replacing the existing obsolete and deteriorating 66-year-old terminal, which serves approximately 232,000 passengers each weekday – a figure the Port Authority expects to jump to 337,000 passengers daily by 2040. …

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Happy New Year now fix this shit hole.  That excerpt above is nothing more than legal mumbo jumbo about the DISASTER known as the Port Authority Bus Terminal.  It’s a top 3 worst place on earth along with Penn Station (at times) and the exit ramp leading up to the Lincoln Tunnel.  All three on Hell on Earth on any given day, and they’re all brutally horrible in their own horrifying and special way.  They say America is the land of opportunity and New York City is the epicenter of it all, yet it’s like pulling teeth to get in and out of that godforsaken city.  Sick planning, you social engineers!

Over the last few months they’ve been holding shareholders meetings and random conferences to lay out future plans, get feedback, and ultimately follow the standard PR protocol for something like this.  I’m sure there are some powerful people in the building for these types of events with big brains and big wallets, probably big time logistics folks.  Logistics is such a vague term that it covers almost everything.  I don’t fully understand the meaning, but if you tell me there are logistics people in the building, I’ll sit up in my chair a bit out of intimidation.

To list every single problem Port Authority has would take three lifetimes.  If you’re not familiar with it, you’d say it’s the most inefficient place in the entire world, and you’re probably not wrong in saying so.  There is zero organization, and at any given time it’s mass chaos.  Don’t even get me started on a holiday, during rush hour, or when there’s bad weather/major delays.  Port Authority is confusing as hell when it’s empty, but when people are filing in by the hundreds, it’s every man and woman for themselves, and don’t even think about asking someone for help.  The commute itself is bad enough; waiting impatiently for a bus in a crowded building that is being run under gross negligence and complete incompetence adds insult to injury.  On some days, the time spent in Port Authority overshadows the time on the crowded bus, sitting in traffic while you contemplate how you can kill yourself.  Also there are bums EVERYWHERE.  Obviously that’s a huge problem in and of itself, and it’s very much an issue all around NYC, but it’s especially a problem at Port Authority.

As a frequent visitor aka daily customer, who better to give honest feedback than me and my fellow commuters?  The only problem is most people would rather complain and stomp their feet instead of providing an alternate solution.  I am not most people.  I believe that my right to complain is warranted because I am actively trying to fix it; I am trying to make all of our lives a little easier by fixing Port Authority Bus Terminal, and I am confident that my plans are in the best interest of everyone.  Up first, a big electronic board with bus schedules and stops.

If you’re taking a bus out of Port Authority for the first time, good luck finding your gate.  My buses are strictly on the 300-level of the building, but if the other floors are any like mine, there’s no real way of knowing which bus you need and, more importantly, when it’s coming.  Would it be that difficult to put up a big board/screen somewhere saying what bus is at what gate and at what time?  Each gate has a confusing board up right by the door.  It’s nearly impossible to read, and if you’re trying to figure out what gate you need, those individual boards are only going to make matters worse.  The big board is an easy fix, but that’s only one step towards a better system.

The single biggest problem at Port Authority is finding the line for your gate.  You’d think it’s a straight line starting at the actual door and extending straight back in one direction.  That makes too much sense.  When 5000 people are all trying to board their bus and get the fuck out of New York as soon as possible, line organization is completely ignored.  The lines weave in and out of each other with no sense of simplicity or rationale.  Two people could be standing right next to each other facing different directions, yet are on line for the same gate.  You can ask someone what line they’re on, and they’ll tell you what the person in front of them had said because you’re so far from the actual gate that nobody knows for sure what line they’re standing on.  It’s hard to convey what a zoo it actually is if you’ve never seen it firsthand.

These pictures don’t do it justice.  Port Authority is mayhem.  Sometimes the lines are so long that you have to walk to the front of your gate and follow the line all the way around the concourse to find the end of your line.  And when you get there, count the odds at 50% that you’re on the right one.  The disarray of this place is astounding, and nobody seems to care to fix it.  I have a solution.




The gates need lines.  And the best part is, the lines don’t have to be straight lines.  The “line” can go all over the place as long as you can look down and see which line you’re standing on.  Consider this a free idea, @PortAuthority.  The lines can look like anything.  But if you can look down on the ground and see numbers/arrows for our respective gates, it boosts organization tenfold.  It won’t fix everything, but it’s a step in the right direction and a start if nothing else.  When the lines get crazy, I’m not sure there’s one finite solution that can maintain order, but if the first half of all lines are set up to organize themselves in a way like this, it limits the mayhem at the backend.  It’s such a basic implementation that seemingly is too simple for the big brains of New York to recognize.  You don’t even need to do any renovation for this.  You can lay down colored tape with a number on it, and suddenly people will know where they are. I just fixed Port Authority with some duct tape.  $3.1B budget for operations, meanwhile I solved a piece of the puzzle after a trip to the hardware store and $1.64 worth of supplies.  Fuck outta here with y’all and your bullshit.





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