Com­muters won't have to dig any deeper

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By David Porter

The Port Au­thor­ity's pro­posed bud­get for 2017 con­tains no in­creases in mass tran­sit fares or bridge and tun­nel tolls.

NEWARK, N.J. >> The Port Au­thor­ity of New York and New Jer­sey’s pro­posed bud­get for 2017 con­tains no toll or fare in­creases but also no clar­ity about when con­struc­tion on a new Man­hat­tan bus ter­mi­nal might be­gin, or how it will fit into the agency’s 10-year cap­i­tal plan.

The pro­posed bud­get, re­leased Thurs­day, also an­tic­i­pates higher rev­enue from tolls at the agency’s bridges and tun­nels in 2017, de­spite the ab­sence of toll hikes.

Port Au­thor­ity Chair­man John Deg­nan said in May the agency was com­pletely re­do­ing the 10-year, $28 bil­lion cap­i­tal plan it un­veiled in 2014 to in­clude a new bus ter­mi­nal as well as sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments at LaGuardia and Newark Lib­erty air­ports.

The au­thor­ity also op­er­ates Ste­wart In­ter­na­tional Air­port in New Wind­sor.

The Port Au­thor­ity had been crit­i­cized for not ini­tially in­clud­ing money in the cap­i­tal plan to re­place its six-decade-old bus ter­mi­nal, which has been a source of mount­ing crit­i­cism over fre­quent de­lays and crum­bling in­fra­struc­ture.

In May, Deg­nan said he hoped to have a new 10year plan ready for a vote as early as Septem­ber.

Deg­nan couldn’t im­me­di­ately be reached for com­ment Fri­day.

The 2017 bud­get ded­i­cates about $47 mil­lion for plan­ning for a new ter­mi­nal and $21 mil­lion for a con­tin­u­ing pro­gram to make in­te­rior re­pairs and im­prove bus traf­fic flow.

Last month, Port Au­thor­ity board mem­bers heard five pro­pos­als for a new bus ter­mi­nal as part of an in­ter­na­tional de­sign com­pe­ti­tion be­gun ear­lier this year. The de­signs would cost any­where from roughly $4 bil­lion to more than $15 bil­lion.

New Jer­sey law­mak­ers have pushed for a new fa­cil­ity on or near the cur­rent lo­ca­tion at 42nd Street and Eighth Av­enue on Man­hat­tan’s west side. Some New York of­fi­cials have said they’ll fight any plan that lo­cates it a block west, say­ing it would dis­place small busi­nesses and rent-reg­u­lated apart­ments in the Hell’s Kitchen neigh­bor­hood.

More than 200,000 peo­ple use the ter­mi­nal each week­day.

For those who com­mute by car, the ab­sence of toll in­creases at Port Au­thor­ity bridges and tun­nels was welcome news af­ter five straight years of sched­uled hikes, the last com­ing in De­cem­ber 2015.

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