Accounting for a ‘provocative’ bus-elevator idea

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An elevator for a bus. (via www.ascensoare.ro)
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Developer Larry Silverstein is making moves toward developing a tower on the far west side that could include a new bus garage, complete with special bus elevators, that would help ease rush-hour congestion between New York and New Jersey.

Yesterday, the Real Deal reported that Silverstein, in partnership with Mercedes-Benz of Manhattan, is working on plans for a 60-story retail and apartment tower right near the Lincoln Tunnel, on 11th Avenue, between 40th and 41st streets, the site of an old Mercedes-Benz showroom.

Today, the New York Post followed up, reporting that, "Sources said Silverstein is still figuring out what will fill the rest of the tower that sits on a full block of 92,393 square feet of land above the No. 7 line subway."

A source familiar with the project told Capital the tower is still in its most preliminary, conceptual stages, and that at this point it does not include, nor preclude, a new bus station.

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At an April breakfast forum, Port Authority executive director Patrick Foye described an old Silverstein proposal to build a new bus garage at the base of a skyscraper at that site as "provocative."

His interest in such a proposal is easy to understand. Right now, buses routinely pick up passengers in New Jersey, drop them off at the Port Authority, and then, because they have no place to park, go back to New Jersey, just to make the round-trip all over again for the evening rush hour. That creates a lot of traffic congestion.

As I reported earlier this month:

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.

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

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.