“Celebrating” the PANYNJ’s 100th Anniversary


The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) was formed by an act of Congress 100 years ago, on April 30, 1921, and has been celebrating its landmark anniversary. However, many local advocates for the region’s rail riders don’t see much reason to celebrate. Instead, we reflect on how the Port Authority has let riders down and resisted all reform efforts.

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PANYNJ Lease Deal Fracas May Affect Fares

A controversial deal in which the Port Authority leased the North Bergen park-and-ride lot to NJ Transit for just one dollar a year may be coming undone, and it may have implications for NJ Transit fares, according to reporting in the Star-Ledger by Steve Strunsky (March 20).  The deal is under scrutiny because of conflicts-of-interest allegations involving Port Authority Chairman David Samson, whose law firm had been retained by NJ Transit to help maximize revenue from park-and-ride lots.

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Port Authority Documents Not Easily Accessible

It’s always been problematic for those interested in how public agencies work to get access to internal documents.  Laws such as the federal Freedom of Information Act and New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act are one way by which the public can find out what’s actually going on in often-opaque public agencies and authorities.  The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey seems to be more opaque than most; as a bistate agency, it can make the best (or worst?) of the laws of both states.  Recently, a man arrested by Port Authority police at the PATH station in Hoboken tried to access Port Authority documents, first through the federal law, and then the New Jersey law.  The Port Authority responded that some of the documents requested were exempt under the federal law, and also demanded nearly $4,000 for copying costs.  He then tried under the state law, but a New Jersey appeals court ruled that the state Open Records Act doesn’t apply to the Port Authority—because it’s a bistate agency and thus can’t be subject to control of any one state.  (Oct. 4; Associated Press via the Wall Street Journal and transportationnation.org)

NJT Buses May Roam Manhattan

New Jersey Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson suggested on May 9 that some NJT buses might pick up passengers on the streets of Manhattan, rather than just at the Port Authority Bus Terminal.  Simpson broached the idea at NJT’s monthly board meeting; the idea was reported by Karen Rouse in The Record (May 10).  Although any such street pickups would fall under the jurisdiction of New York City’s Department of Transportation, Simpson noted that New York Waterway ferry shuttle buses already pick up passengers on city streets.  NJT spokeswoman Nancy Snyder noted that NJT pays the Port Authority $1.78 million a year for the use of its bus terminals (the midtown Port Authority and the uptown George Washington Bridge terminals).