Can special elevators spare Manhattan-bound buses those pointless trips back to New Jersey?

An elevator for a bus. (via www.ascensoare.ro)
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During a breakfast forum last week, Port Authority executive director Patrick Foye described an old proposal by developer Larry Silverstein to build a new bus garage on the far west side as "interesting" and "provocative."

To be clear, it's not the desire for a new bus garage that is provocative, so much as the way it would have to be built.

The need is apparent. Right now, buses pick up New Jersey residents in the morning, deposit them at the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue, and then, because they have no place to park, return to New Jersey, only to make the round trip all over again for the evening rush hour. Buses routinely get caught up in Lincoln Tunnel traffic, a situation for which there is no resolution in sight, thanks in part to Governor Chris Christie’s decision to kill the ARC tunnels in 2010.

A bus garage somewhere on the far west side, though, would go some way toward ameliorating the problem. The Port Authority has toyed with the idea of building a bus garage on a platform over the depressed access roads leading to the Lincoln Tunnel, but building platforms can be prohibitively expensive. A bus garage with a tower on top could be built on solid land, at 39th Street and Dyer Avenue.

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Silverstein’s particular proposal, however, comes with a couple of major challenges, which is where “provocative” comes into it.

First, the site is too narrow to accomodate the sort of bus ramps that the Port Authority terminal relies on. Instead, the new bus garage would have to use high-tech bus elevators, according to two sources familiar with the proposal. The technology exists. But neither source could name another city that actually uses elevators for bus parking. So the use of them in New York City would be, in a sense, experimental. 

Further, because the bus garage would occupy the first several floors of whatever tower Silverstein has in mind, any residents or tenants seeking to get to the skyscraper above the garage would first have take an elevator to a sky lobby. The whole building, in other words, would rely an unorthodox use of elevators.

The Port Authority had no comment for this article.