- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) - New restrooms, ceilings that don’t leak and buses that run closer to schedule are some of the short-term improvements the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey described Wednesday for its aging New York bus terminal.

The Port Authority Bus Terminal has become a flashpoint of criticism for the bistate agency after plans for a new station were left off its 10-year capital plan released earlier this year. Mounting complaints from commuters and lawmakers focused on everything from wait times to poor Wi-Fi service to decaying restrooms and bad air conditioning.

The Port Authority is in the midst of a large-scale study, due to be released early next year, on the prospects for a new terminal. Until then, the agency has freed up $90 million - in addition to $173 million already in its 10-year plan - for short-term improvements.

Among them is a bypass lane to make it easier for buses to get to the terminal’s fourth floor, and more staging areas so buses don’t have to return to New Jersey after the morning commute. Charging stations, fans and better Wi-Fi either have been installed or are in process, officials said. Two of the dozen or so restrooms will be completely renovated by year’s end, with the rest done by 2017, according to Cedrick Fulton, the agency’s head of bridges, tunnels and terminals.

The $90 million comes indirectly from the Port Authority’s project to replace suspension cables on the George Washington Bridge, Fulton said. Since that money is available but earmarked for the back end of the project, it is being freed up now by deferring or slowing current work on other projects, including the Lincoln Tunnel helix and roadway repairs near the New York side of the tunnel.

The work at the bus terminal is due to be completed in the next three to four years. In the meantime, the Port Authority will look at longer-term solutions.

“It’s a necessity, it’s not an option, to build a new station or do a fundamental redevelopment,” board member Kenneth Lipper said Wednesday.

The terminal is the busiest in the country, handling about 220,000 passenger trips daily.

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