Proposed Operating Budget calls for investments in initiatives to enhance the customer experience at agency facilities and provide best-in-class safety and security; “Core” expenses increase 2.2 percent over 2018;
NEWARK, NJ (November 2018)(CNBNewsnet)--The Port Authority today released for public review and comment the agency’s proposed 2019 $3.3 billion Operating Budget for ongoing operations, maintenance and security at all agency facilities. The proposed 2019 budget focuses on providing best-in-class safety and security at all agency’s facilities, a 21st century customer experience including the use of new technology to greatly improve customer communications, and enhanced operations that include initiatives to expand and improve existing service.
The proposed 2019 Operating Budget includes an inflation-based 2.2 percent increase of $70 million in core expenses over the 2018 budget. In addition, the budget provides special targeted incremental spending of $23 million required to address necessary safety and security initiatives and to accommodate passengers during upcoming weekend PATH shutdowns needed to complete Superstorm Sandy repairs. The targeted supplemental spending represents an incremental 0.7 percent increase in spending projected for 2019. It is expected that the 2019 rate of increase, where the expense budget edges above inflation with the inclusion of the targeted safety and Sandy spending, is a one-time event and that future increases will return to levels linked to the rate of inflation.
“The Board sincerely appreciates the time and effort that staff put into developing this comprehensive operating and capital budget for our review,” said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “All of our commissioners take their fiduciary responsibilities very seriously, and we strongly urge the traveling public and all Port Authority stakeholders to provide us with comments to assist us in our deliberations before we act on the budget in December.”
“The proposed 2019 budget sets forth a fiscally responsible roadmap for the agency to make progress on its long-term goal to deliver the 21st century customer experience the traveling public expects. The proposed 2019 Capital Budget also invests billions to build new best-in-class transportation infrastructure for the future, recognizing that our existing facilities don’t come close to meeting global standards,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “We’ve also dedicated significant resources to provide an even greater level of safety and security, including enhanced cybersecurity initiatives and increases in security staffing and technology.”
The proposed 2019 Operating Budget incorporates funding for new initiatives that align with agency priorities:
- $773 million for safety and security initiatives, including a $45 million increase from the 2018 budget to fund development of updated Emergency Operations Plans for every facility; significantly upgraded cybersecurity efforts; expanded police staffing; enhanced Aviation security staffing in credentialing and compliance; and resources to establish 24/7 Airport Operations Centers at John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International and LaGuardia airports.
- $52 million toward multiple customer experience initiatives, including improving airport customer service by deploying additional customer experience specialists; monitoring of TSA and taxi wait times to provide real-time updates to passengers; continuing the Quality of Commute program at the Port Authority Bus Terminal and other terminal improvements; through upgraded lighting and escalators, by expanding the use of customer service representatives, by upgrading information kiosks, and by other improvements; by installing countdown clocks at all PATH stations and providing cell service at underground PATH stations; and by expanding the use of digital and social media strategies across all facilities to provide reliable alerts and enhance customer engagement.
- $53 million to deliver first-class operational excellence including, for example, initiatives to improve PATH operations; expand all-electronic tolling at the Outerbridge Crossing and Goethals Bridge; and improve airport operations during storm events. The funding also includes the continuation of efforts to implement an agency-wide Enterprise Asset Management Program to improve overall asset maintenance. Funding also is included to develop and pilot autonomous vehicle technology to increase the capacity of the Lincoln Tunnel Express Bus Lane. Finally, in the Port Department, funding is provided for strategic planning to address intermodal growth at port facilities.
- $10 million in incremental funding to continue electrifying the airport bus and agency-wide vehicle fleets; the installation of on-site solar power at airports and other facilities; and upgrades at the World Trade Center to install high-efficiency, light-emitting diode (LED) technology. Funding also is included to advance an electric cargo-handling equipment demonstration project at the Elizabeth Port Authority Marine Terminal and support efforts to achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions across all Port Authority facilities.
The Port Authority also posted for public review and comment a proposed 2019 $3.7 billion Capital Budget – a $300 million increase over 2018 – to carry forward (1) multiple major projects to rebuild and replace the agency’s legacy facilities with state-of-the-art infrastructure and (2) a large set of projects to maintain assets in a state of good repair and improve resiliency in the post-Superstorm Sandy era. Major items in the proposed 2019 Capital Plan include:
- $1.5 billion to continue the redevelopment of the region’s airports – LaGuardia, Newark Liberty International and John F. Kennedy International. At LaGuardia Airport, construction continues on an entirely new redeveloped airport. Planning and design work continues for the AirTrain LaGuardia project. At Newark Liberty International Airport, investment continues for the construction of the new state-of-the-art Terminal One. At John F. Kennedy International Airport, work continues to advance the planning for the airport’s redevelopment.
- $541 million for upgrades trans-Hudson crossings, including continued construction of the Lincoln Tunnel Access program projects, completion of the Bayonne Bridge project, the ongoing work to replace the 592 steel suspender ropes on the George Washington Bridge and other components of the bridge’s rehabilitation program.
- $249 million for winding down construction activities at the World Trade Center, including the West Vehicular Access project, supporting structures for the Performing Arts Center and improvements to One World Trade Center and World Trade Center retail space.
- $112 million for PATH’s Signal System Replacement Program and the continuation of PATH station and equipment modernization programs, including Superstorm Sandy recovery work.
- $89 million for construction and design activities at the seaport facilities, including work on ExpressRail Port Jersey, the Cross Harbor Freight Program environmental review and continued pavement work at the Howland Hook Marine Terminal.
- $31 million for further planning and design activities for a new Port Authority Bus Terminal to advance this priority project through the formal environmental review process.
- $17 million to continue to support the planning activities for the Gateway passenger rail tunnel project.
The proposed 2019 Budget also includes $1.5 billion for debt service charged to operations and deferred operating expenses.
The Port Authority is seeking public comment on the proposed budgets, which are available online. To view the budget materials, click here.
The proposed budgets will be up for action at the Board of Commissioner’s December 13 meeting. Written comments can be submitted at email@example.com through December 10. Comments also can be made at the Board of Commissioner’s December 13 meeting. The agency will provide written comments received to the commissioners prior to their meeting.