Weepy Oculus

The Story

It was only a few years ago that the Oculusa shopping center erected on top of lower Manhattan’s PATH commuter-rail terminusopened to great fanfare. The structure is vaulted by an elaborately ribbed, retractable roof that has struggled with leaks since its opening and has now suffered a tear in its rubber seal. The Port Authority could have bought a waterproof ceiling for the billions it spent building this absurd train station. But the leaky Oculus is only the latest exhibit in the Port Authority’s epic story of bloat, waste, and fraud.

The Facts You Need to Know

  1. Progress: The Port Authority was established 99 years ago to bring technocratic, apolitical efficiency to infrastructure managementbut it has delivered the opposite. Read more.

  2. Debt: Tens of billions of dollars in outstanding debt and cross-subsidies among its many entities make breaking up the Port Authority virtually impossible. Read more.

  3. Busted: The Port Authority Bus Terminal has been operating beyond its capacity virtually since it opened, in 1950. Read more.

“You need to have governors who think about the important issues the region faces as opposed to thinking, ‘Let’s find a way to use the Port Authority and its money to enhance my reputation.’”

Jameson Doig, Princeton University

Twitter Take

The Past is Present

Terminal Illness By James Taranto (Winter 1992)

“The commuters who pass through the Port Authority en route to the suburbs and the tourists who arrive on long-distance bus lines have long been assaulted by some of the most unsavory elements of urban life.”

And in other news...

“The head of the transit union representing New York City’s subway and bus workers has raised the prospect of a labor strike as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority seeks to combat overtime abuse.”