Budget Holds the Line on Bridge and Tunnel Tolls, PATH Fares;
AirTrain JFK Begins Service this Year
The Port Authority Board of Commissioners today approved a $4.5 billion budget that meets post-September 11 needs for new and expanded security, begins to restore PATH commuter service between New Jersey and Lower Manhattan, and provides for a new PATH station near the World Trade Center site. The 2002 spending blueprint, which maintains bridge and tunnel tolls and PATH fares, also funds a massive program of transportation improvements, including AirTrain JFK and an electronic fare card for PATH, according to Port Authority Chairman Jack G. Sinagra.
“The world changed on September 11. This is a budget that reflects new realities and new priorities,” said Chairman Sinagra, following the bistate agency’s monthly meeting. “It also continues delivery of the five-year transportation investment program announced last year, the largest in Port Authority history. The region will be stronger, more secure and more prosperous as a result of the spending program approved today.”
New York Governor George E. Pataki said, “Approval of this budget is a step forward towards a new, vibrant Lower Manhattan that will secure New York’s standing as a global capital. This budget will lay the foundation for a downtown transportation hub that will serve hundreds of thousands of commuters and visitors a day, and provide the basis for the New York City of tomorrow.”
New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey said, “New Jersey’s economy, and our quality of life, will be substantially strengthened by the PATH investments funded by this budget. In addition to repairing the extensive damage caused by the September 11 terroristic attacks, the improvements will provide commuters with new transit links serving Hudson County and the New York City financial district.”
Port Authority Vice Chairman Charles A. Gargano said, “This budget shows the importance of the Port Authority to the continued economic development of New York and New Jersey. As we move forward, the Port Authority will make these long-term transportation investments in close coordination with state and local public agencies. Working men and women will also benefit from more than 15,000 jobs, and $2.3 billion in economic activity.”
Port Authority Executive Director Joseph J. Seymour said, “National and international economic forces mean that this is not an easy time financially for the Port Authority. However, this budget shows that the Port Authority is financially strong, and able to carry out the transportation investments that took on a new urgency and a new scope after September 11.
“The agency’s gross revenues are expected to decrease slightly, and the Port Authority’s 2002 operating results will be lower than expected one year ago. If the national recession is short-lived, however, and if the public’s confidence in air travel is
restored, the Port Authority will be right on track to deliver the ambitious five-year investment program announced last year. Even if conditions do not improve, we will deliver the plan, but over a longer period of time.”
Mr. Seymour said the Port Authority’s ability to deliver the sweeping program approved today was made possible in part by the Port Authority’s excellent financial standing before September 11, 2001.
“At the end of 2000, the agency’s reserves were at an all-time high of $1.675 billion, and its net income and net revenues were also at all-time highs,” Mr. Seymour said. “We have been able to absorb the fiscal shocks associated with the World Trade Center tragedy and its aftermath. The spirit and dedication of our employees is strong. We have the resources and the expertise to carry out the enormous responsibility that has been entrusted to us -- rebuilding, protecting public safety, and continuing to improve the region’s transportation facilities.”
The Port Authority’s $4.5 billion budget includes $1.857 billion in operating expenses, $1.961 billion in gross capital expenditures, $508 million in debt service charged to operations and $173 million for other expenditures.
Major capital investments and customer service improvements provided
for in the budget for 2002 include:
- A two-year project to restore PATH service to Lower Manhattan using the World Trade Center PATH station as a temporary terminus, while pursuing a longer-term transportation plan for downtown Manhattan.
- The reopening of the Exchange Place PATH station in Jersey City and restoration of PATH Tunnels E and F.
- Design and installation of an integrated fare payment system that accepts Smart Cards and MetroCards, offering PATH riders far greater convenience. Deposits in the PATH fare card account will be easy to make, and the card is expected to one day be accepted on transit systems throughout the region.
- Continuing progress on the AirTrain JFK project, with the completion of the Howard Beach branch by the end of 2002. The Jamaica branch is scheduled to open during the first half of 2003.
- Continuing redevelopment of roadways and terminals at JFK, including improvements to Runway 4R-22L.
- Repainting the George Washington Bridge towers, and reconstruction of the Outerbridge Crossing roadway deck.
- Creation of a permanent ferry terminal at Battery Park City, restoration of the historic ferry terminal at Hoboken, and development of a new ferry terminal at LaGuardia Airport.
- Terminal improvements at Port Newark and Howland Hook, Staten Island.
With the regional economy in downtown Manhattan made worse by the events of September 11, 2001, activity levels at the Port Authority’s airports, bridges, tunnels, and PATH system were lower than forecast in the 2001 budget. Based on unaudited results, airport passenger traffic for 2001 is estimated at 81.8 million, down approximately 11 percent from 2000. The two New York City airports welcomed 51 million passengers, a decrease of 6.9 million passengers. JFK posted a total of 29 million passengers, while LaGuardia welcomed 22 million passengers. Newark International Airport saw a total of 31 million passengers, a decrease of 3.6 million compared to 2000.
The Port Authority’s two trans-Hudson vehicular tunnels and four bridges reported a combined estimated eastbound traffic volume of 121.9 million for 2001, a decline of about 4.4 million vehicles from the previous year. In 2001, about 69.8 million passengers used the PATH rail transit system, a decrease of approximately 3.6 million from the previous year.2001 FINANCIAL RESULTS
Despite the economic impact of September 11, 2001, the agency’s bottom line remains strong, Executive Director Seymour said.
Net income from Port Authority operations was approximately $109 million.
Gross operating revenues were approximately $2.7 billion for 2001, compared to $2.6 billion in 2000. The 2001 total was 5.5 percent lower than the 2001 budgeted amount of $2.9 billion, but still represented a year-to-year increase of 2 percent.
Expenses in 2001 totaled $2.1 billion, compared to $1.8 billion in 2000. Budgeted expenses for 2001 had been $1.9 billion, leading to an increase over budget of 9 percent. The added expense was primarily due to about $270 million in costs related to the events of September 11 net of expected insurance and other proceeds.
Reserve levels at year-end 2001 were $1.575 billion, which were $100 million below the 2000 actual amount, and $112 million less than the 2001 budgeted amount. By the end of 2002, it is anticipated that reserves will grow to $1.758 billion.