TRENTON – On Wednesday the Port Authority Board of Commissioners voted to authorize a $7.8 billion budget for 2015. Both Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Assemblyman Gordon Johnson criticized the budget for its failure to provide funding to the aging Port Authority Bus Terminal while providing a disproportionate amount of funding for World Trade Center projects.
The Authority plans to spend $350 million in 2015 on the completion of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, a project with a total cost that is now approximately $4 billion. The Authority also plans to spend $16 million on the “Quality of Commute Program,” a program that was added to the Authority’s 10 year capital plan this past July after Weinberg’s persistence regarding the conditions at the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
Senator Weinberg addressed the commission today stating, “While the authorization of $16 million for the “Quality of Commute Program” is encouraging, all-in-all the proposed 2015 Budget is a vivid reminder of the Port Authority’s past mistakes.
“The budget that you are voting on today approves capital expenditures such as $3 million for fixing public restrooms and $3 million for mitigating major ceiling leaks at the PABT, which serves 250,000 commuters a day – a facility that has been called at worst, ‘The Single Worst Place on Planet Earth’ and at best ‘Obsolete’.
“In comparison, the budget that you are voting on today approves the last $350 million of $4 billion for the completion of a “world class transit gateway” complete with wings, which serves an average of 40,000 commuters a day,” said Senator Weinberg.
In Assemblyman Johnson’s remarks he stated, “I noted in the budget that the George Washington Bridge will produce an operating profit of $526 million dollars in 2015, most of which is coming from the pockets of Bergen County commuters. It’s a shame that basic maintenance and efficiency improvements at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, also used by Bergen County commuters, have taken so long to be implemented. I found the conditions in the Terminal deplorable and urge the Board to move quickly to make much needed improvements.”
Senator Weinberg and Assemblyman Johnson will be holding their second bus rider forum at 7:30PM on Thursday, December 11 at the Richard Rhoda Community Center in Teaneck to hear directly from residents about the issues they face while commuting.