Home Lifestyle Commuting to NYC: Navigating the Port Authority Bus Terminal

Commuting to NYC: Navigating the Port Authority Bus Terminal

by Joy Piazza
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For many of us who live here in Hudson County, the best way to get into the city is by bus, and that means starting or terminating at that very massive, somewhat daunting station known as the Port Authority Bus Terminal. But, it’s time to put any fear or anxiety you have about the PABT aside, because we’ve got you covered. Here’s our guide to navigating the Port Authority during your commute to NYC, and perhaps, you might see it a little differently than before:

port authority bus terminal hoboken nyc

The Run-Down:

The Port Authority Bus Terminal, or PABT, gets a fairly bad rep. It was, at one point, named one of the ugliest buildings in the US! But, despite its not-so-appealing status, the PA is also a convenient and, dare we say it, a quick and easy place to navigate {if you know how to work it}. It safely transports hundreds of thousands of commuters each day. You can grab various types of coffee before venturing out into the cold streets of NYC, and if you need to catch the subway — all good, it’s right there, too.


The Port Authority as we know it today opened on December 15, 1950. And it couldn’t have come at a better time: before it opened, commuter and regional buses were dispersed throughout Midtown Manhattan, using eight different terminals, therefore making it confusing for passengers, congested for city-dwellers and a downright headache for drivers and dispatchers. It was also a time where “commuting” as a concept was relatively new. The Postwar economic boom meant that many were moving to outlying areas of New York, in the search for more space and Leave It To Beaver-esque communities. But those same transplants needed to get into the city easily, and city officials had to come up with a plan to centralize all of that activity.

READ: What to Do Near The PATH Stop: World Trade Center

Fairly soon after it opened, the PABT had to be expanded and revamped. Especially in the 1970s and 80s, when bus ridership was particularly high, and traffic was reaching a critical mass. So city officials opened the “bus only” lane for peak commute times, meaning that people taking the bus wouldn’t have to wait in the sometimes endless traffic through the Lincoln Tunnel. The terminal itself added an additional wing, and more bus ramps were added to and from the terminal building. Today, the Port Authority has more than 200 bus gates, and 200,000 commuters pass through every weekday.

port authority bus terminal hoboken nyc

Getting There:

If you work in the city and are within walking distance to the PABT, finding ways to dodge the tourists could be the difference from making your bus or waiting for the next one. So, your best bet — if you’re coming from points east, is the ‘ol Mariott Marquis/Shubert Alley cut-through. Located between 7th and 8th Avenues, the cut-throughs take you from 46th to 44th streets, without having to meander through the touristy areas.

port authority bus terminal hoboken nyc

Finding Your Gate:

This is the part that may trip up PABT anxiety. Since there are so many gates and buses, there’s no *true* rhyme or reason to it all. But there is good news — bus gates to and from Hudson County generally don’t change all that much. For instance, if you need to take the 158 to Weehawken, West New York and points north, that will almost always be at gate 202, from the hours of 6:00AM-10:00PM. Same with the buses to and from Hoboken and Jersey City — during those standard times, you can find them at the same gate every day, on the 200 level. After 10:00PM, all buses move to the third floor, and then after 1am, the buses move downstairs to the lower level, right near the subway entrance. Be sure to check the posted signs outside the main 200-level gates for specific locations.

See More: {Long} Weekend Getaway Idea: Paris, France

General Etiquette:

This applies the most on the escalators. Much like the PATH and the subway, the right hand side of the escalator should be reserved for standing, while the left side should be for traveling up and down. Queuing up at the gates is also super important, otherwise a weary commuter might bite back if anyone tries to cut. It’s sad that we even have to mention it, but, just in case.

Well, there you have it: the lure and the lore of the Port Authority. Happy commuting!

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