But what would John Oliver say?
The subject here is the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan, and it was Mr. Oliver, the host of the fake-news show “Last Week Tonight” on HBO, who called this less-than-enchanting commuter gateway “the single worst place on Planet Earth.”
That was last summer. In December, the website Failed Architecture said it was “a hall of unfathomable nightmares” and included this line from a Yelp reviewer: “If I die and go to hell, I think it might resemble this.”
Now comes a news release from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, hailing two major accomplishments in its “Quality of Commute” program, a $90 million initiative to spruce up the terminal.
One of the achievements mentioned in the news release was a “restroom rehabilitation project.”
It said that Phase 1 of the project had been completed and that the result was “new, modern men’s and women’s bathrooms on the second floor.” It mentioned new floors, new walls, new lighting, new ceilings, new plumbing fixtures and new partitions.
Chris Valens, a spokesman for the agency, said 16 bathrooms in the terminal were being redone at a cost of $13 million. That is about $812,500 each. Any homeowner who has redone a bathroom on a budget with far fewer zeros would wish for that kind of money.
When the restroom project was discussed at a meeting of the agency’s board of commissioners in September, a question arose about the timetable. Cedrick T. Fulton, the agency’s director of tunnels, bridges and terminals, was quoted as telling the board that finishing the improvements would take three more years. That prompted the chairman, John J. Degnan, to note that the George Washington Bridge was completed in less than four years.
- Thanks for reading The Times.
But Phase 1 has been completed. Clearly, on-the-spot reporting was called for. What about that lighting and those plumbing fixtures?
The lights are indeed bright. The color scheme is contemporary, with grayish-silverish floor tiles. The partitions are dark and have textured surfaces. The urinals in the men’s room look like some on the website of the manufacturer Toto, with the $1,071 flushometer valve. The toilets, made by Kohler, have similar-looking Toto valves.
That was the men’s room. Outside the women’s restroom, Agnes Januszek of Fort Lee, N.J., said, “Can’t complain.”
Usually bathrooms in places like the Port Authority are “kind of gross,” she said, “but this is nice and clean.”
“As long as it’s clean,” she continued, “that’s all that matters.”
A second person who checked out the women’s restroom — and who asked not to be identified because she has always wanted to be an anonymous source — reported her findings by email: “Black shiny granite-y sink. Arched faucets by Sloan. Tasteful slate gray and powder gray tiles.”
But for all the newness, something was all too familiar in a women’s restroom: a line.