Press Release Article


Date: Feb 20, 2003
Press Release Number: 19-2003

Despite Lower Revenues and Higher Costs, $5 Billion Budget Continues Critical Transportation Programs; No Rise in Bridge, Tunnel Tolls and PATH Fares

The Port Authority Board of Commissioners today approved a $5 billion budget for 2003 that strengthens security at regional transportation facilities, restores PATH commuter train service between New Jersey and Lower Manhattan, and continues key transportation improvement programs, such as AirTrain JFK and the purchase of a fleet of new PATH rail cars – without raising bridge and tunnel tolls or PATH fares.

The 2003 budget also continues to provide significant funding to the states of New York and New Jersey to assist with their transportation and economic development projects, said Port Authority Chairman Jack G. Sinagra today, at the monthly meeting of the bistate agency’s Board of Commissioners.
\"The Port Authority’s 2003 Budget demonstrates this agency’s continued resilience and determination to fulfill its commitments to the public – to provide safe, secure and efficient transportation facilities, and to improve customer services, for the people of New York and New Jersey,\" Mr. Sinagra said. \"Because of the continuing economic fallout of September 11, which both reduced the agency’s revenues and increased its security and insurance costs, we have had to re-evaluate our priorities and make some adjustments to the record five-year capital plan announced at the beginning of 2001.

\"Even so,\" Mr. Sinagra added, \"the Port Authority remains financially strong and able to carry on with record levels of capital investment, ensuring the transportation services that the public expects and deserves.\"

In 2003, the Port Authority anticipates investing about $1.84 billion in facilities in both states. Over the five-year period from 2003 to 2007, the agency expects to invest approximately $8.7 billion in transportation and security improvements for the region, including approximately $1 billion in direct assistance to the two states for transportation and economic development projects.

New York Governor George E. Pataki said, \"The Port Authority took a devastating blow on September 11, both in human and financial terms, and it now faces some of the most challenging fiscal times we have ever seen. This new budget demonstrates the Port Authority\'s commitment to security for all who live in and visit our region, and highlights the agency’s continuing strong commitment to rebuilding and restoring Lower Manhattan.\"

New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey said, \"For more than 80 years, the Port Authority has been a critical part of this region’s economic growth and quality of life. In spite of the terrible toll of September 11, the Port Authority remains committed to providing a transportation system that keeps our economy strong and allows us to compete globally. This budget reflects that commitment. It makes a critical contribution to our region’s prosperity through its investments in new PATH cars and a new PATH fare collection system; by helping rebuild commuter connections to Lower Manhattan; by deepening our harbor; and by continuing to improve our airports.\"

Port Authority Vice Chairman Charles A. Gargano said, \"The Port Authority, with this budget, continues to contribute mightily to the economic recovery of this region. Not only will we rebuild the PATH connection to Lower Manhattan for approximately 40,000 daily commuters, but we also will help create a beautiful new downtown transit hub that will make commuting to Lower Manhattan easier and more pleasant. In addition, Port Authority funds will continue to help the states accomplish important economic development and transportation projects, further aiding our regional recovery.\"

Port Authority Executive Director Joseph J. Seymour said, \"During the last year, the Port Authority has faced the most significant challenges of its 80-year history. But our commitments remain the same – improving customer service, building and maintaining critical transportation infrastructure, and renewing our focus on safety and security. Even in the face of the devastating events of September 11, 2001, the Port Authority was able to invest more than $1.5 billion in capital projects in 2002, a new single-year record.

\"There’s no question that the last year has had an impact on our resources and our ability to accomplish everything we would like to,\" Mr. Seymour said. \"We have had to refocus our priorities in the post-September 11 world, to rebuild and tighten security at all of our public facilities. We have had to put first things first. Despite the challenges, we have been able to keep moving forward on the critical projects that will ensure the prosperity and quality of life of the New York-New Jersey region.

\"The result of this refocusing is a budget and long-term capital plan that avoid any service cuts,\" Mr. Seymour said. \"In fact, they include funds for new services, such as a new elevated, automated rail link to John F. Kennedy International Airport, and a feasibility study for a possible PATH extension to Newark Liberty International Airport. In our five-year plan, other innovative service improvements are planned, including a high-speed \"E-Z Flow\" lane system for the Port Authority’s Staten Island vehicular crossings.

\"At the same time, our long-term capital plan reflects the critical priority of improving security for everyone who travels in and through this region. Toward that end, we have earmarked more than $500 million to reinforce security systems and improve public safety at our critical transportation facilities.\"

The 2003 budget also includes additional costs for the extension of the municipal lease with the City of Newark for the operation of Newark Liberty International Airport and Port Newark. And the Port Authority is continuing to work toward an agreement with the City of New York for an extension of the lease for the New York City airports.

\"While such new lease agreements will put pressure on our bottom line in the short term,\" Mr. Seymour added, \"they are essential to the Port Authority’s financial strength in the long term, and they will allow for the farsighted capital investment in the airports necessary to their continued success. We have been able to mitigate some of the additional demands on our financial resources that these leases entail by successfully holding down the Port Authority’s routine operating and maintenance expenses.\"

The Port Authority’s $5 billion budget for 2003 includes $1.99 billion in operating expenses, $1.84 billion in gross capital expenditures, $1.11 billion in debt service charged to operations and reserves, and $66 million for other expenditures.

Major capital investments and customer service improvements in the agency’s five-year capital plan, and funded in the 2003 budget, include:

• The reopening of the temporary PATH World Trade Center station, and the Exchange Place (Jersey City) PATH station.

• Development of a grand, permanent intermodal transit terminal at the World Trade site, integrated with a downtown concourse connecting the World Financial Center to the west with a new subway Transit Center to the east.

• Security projects at multiple facilities, including greater use of closed circuit T.V.; improvements to computerized access control systems; and additional fencing and barriers.

• The completion of AirTrain JFK, with service beginning by year-end 2003, and feasibility studies for a possible PATH connection to Newark Liberty International Airport.

• A new airline terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport, and a major expansion of Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport.

• Completion or substantial progress of major construction projects at Newark Liberty International Airport, including structural parking lots and new roadways, as well as runway and taxiway improvement

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