One important thing that's missing from the Port Authority Bus Terminal

Brooklyn Currents | 9/05/2014 | 0 comments

Brooklyn Currents Publisher

It probably would be hard to find any Brooklynite -- or any other New Yorker -- who has never at least once walked through the Port Authority Bus Terminal on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan.

Despite some major renovations, the PA of late has been characterized as a confusing maze of passageways and sections, with a serious lack of information kiosks or even proper signs.

All true.

But the real problem, as  I discovered on an early September day, is the absence of any place to sit down.

Throughout all the cavernous pathways of the bustling  terminal, there isn't so much as a ledge -- let alone a bench or a chair -- on which to sit. You only encounter such a commodity if you're able to find your way to the waiting room of a specific bus line -- which in itself is a formidable task.

I'm pointing this out not so much because of my own comfort -- I'm used to walking, and it wasn't too difficult for me to cover what must have been the equivalent of a half-mile as I searched for New Jersey Transit -- it's because of the difficulty faced by an elderly man, with two canes, trying to make his way to a particular section. 

When I saw him struggling, as crowds zoomed by him, I asked him if he needed any help. He said he definitely did, so I took his arm and guided him. After a few minutes of this slow process, he said he was exhausted and really needed to sit down.

There wasn't any place to do that.  He said he would sit on the floor of the passageway, with hundreds of people shooting by in either direction --  I didn't think that was a very good idea. I just helped him walk further, asking a total of five people if they knew where the closest waiting room was. None had any idea.

We finally came to a "Customer Assistance" box. I pushed the red button, and explained the situation to the voice that answered. She said there was nothing she could do, and that I should ask a cop for help. It didn't occur to her that if I had actually seen any police or Transit officer, I wouldn't have had any need to call the box.

After about 20 minutes of this -- which seemed like an hour to me and I can't imagine how it seemed to him -- we finally came to a small waiting room of one of the bus lines. The gentleman was visibly relieved when he found a seat.

I would like to make a suggestion to the Port Authority: Before you make any further multi-million-dollar improvements to the terminal, put a few chairs or benches around.

It would be a  small project, but it would make a big difference.


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