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Insecurity at Port Authority Bus Terminal

April 15, 2011 8:28:44 PM PDT
It is the nation's busiest bus terminal - the Port Authority in Midtown. But just how secure is it?

Two years ago, an Eyewitness News investigation uncovered how easy it is to get access into restricted areas. We returned only to find the problem is actually worse than ever, and now a state senator is demanding action.

Two years ago we rode in a private vehicle with a Port Authority police officer showing us how easy it was to get access to restricted areas, right into the underbelly of the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

Fast forward to this week using different private vehicle (this time a truck), we found the same unchallenged access underneath one of the nation's busiest commuter hubs.

"That's supposed to be a secure, restricted area. We were not stopped. We were not challenged," the officer said.

Three people in parkas and caps shooting out a car window with a video camera, we went the wrong way up and down ramps repeatedly.

Part of the problem is a now unmanned police booth.

"And that roadway goes directly underneath the bus terminal," the officer said.

Two years ago, the Port Authority police superintendent told us he was "satisfied that the bus terminal is safe."

This time, the Port Authority wouldn't make any available on camera, instead saying in a statement that the safety of customers is its highest priority.

"They're lying. They're lying. It's worse off than when you came thru two years ago," the officer said.

The officer says unmarked civilian trucks are regularly rolling right past that unmanned guard booth into the underbelly of the terminal to make deliveries to Greyhound - as many as 30 deliveries a week into this sensitive area, according to this internal memo we obtained.

"No one's checking them. They're not challenged by police. Their paperwork is not checked, their contents are not checked before entering the building," the officer said.

WALLACE: "So on a regular basis you have trucks packed to the gills, doing whatever."
OFFICER: "No one's being checked, construction workers, lost vehicles driving down there, deliveries."

"You should have been stopped right there," said State Senator Greg Ball as he watched our video. "This is disgusting. It should turn the stomach of every New Yorker. "

Last week, he held hearings on homeland security and security problems at the bus terminal were raised, but, apparently, no one in authority paid attention.

"We are laying out the red carpet to be attacked. It is one thing to take a hit after you've done everything to protect yourself, but to open your arms and welcome an attack - that's what this is," Ball said.

Senator Ball plans to hold additional hearings in May and says he plans to put pressure on Port Authority officials to testify.

If you have a tip about this or any other issue you'd like investigated, please give our tipline a call at 877-TIP-NEWS. You may also e-mail us at the.investigators@abc.com.

Follow Jim Hoffer on Twitter at twitter.com/nycinvestigates and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jimhoffer.wabc


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