The bus terminal is a large building located in Midtown, one block west from Times Square, between 8th and 9th Avenues and 40th and 42nd Street at 625 8th Avenue. It serves as a terminus and departure point for both commuter bus routes as well as for long-distance intercity routes. The terminal boasts an exclusive two-mile (3 km) bus lane that brings buses from New Jersey directly into the building through the Lincoln Tunnel, avoiding traffic tie-ups and delays on city streets (but not necessarily on the ramps into the terminal). Direct underground passageways connect the terminal with the , , , , and New York City Subway lines.
The terminal is the biggest bus station in the United States and the busiest in the world by volume of traffic . It serves 7,200 buses and about 200,000 people on an average weekday. Over 3 billion passengers have used the building since it began operation during 1950.
The Port Authority Bus Terminal began operation on December 15, 1950 for passengers, originally occupying only the block between 40th and 41st Streets. The terminal was intended as a solution for an array of various terminals spread throughout Midtown Manhattan. The goal was to centralize the flow of buses and create a user-friendly building.
The building has seen expansions and revitalizations over the years, most notably the addition of the North Wing in the early 1980s. While this expansion increased capacity by 50%, the accompanying renovation replaced the art deco styling of the original terminal with a "modern" steel-and-glass look of the sort fashionable during the late 1970s and early 1980s for institutional buildings.
The area around the Port Authority Terminal was once considered dangerous even by the standards of pre-gentrified Times Square, especially after dark, but this is no longer the case. During 1997, the terminal was the subject of a study, co-ordinated by Prof. Marcus Felson of Rutgers University, which identified strategic changes to the design with a view to reducing crime. This is one of the world's leading examples of successful situational crime prevention efforts.
A statue of Jackie Gleason in the guise of one of his most famous characters (and New York's most famous bus driver), Ralph Kramden, stands in front of the main entrance to the original South Wing on Eighth Avenue. The plaque on the base of the statue reads, "Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden - Bus Driver - Raccoon Lodge Treasurer - Dreamer - Presented by the People of TV Land."
On November 30, 2007, the Port Authority announced that 20 X Square Associates, a joint venture of the real estate investment trust Vornado and the Ruben Companies will lease the air rights over the terminal's north wing and construct an office tower there: the structure will have of commercial space. The agreement with 20 X Square Associates also includes the addition of of new retail space in the bus terminal, as well as 18 additional gates, which will accommodate 70 additional buses, carrying up to 3,000 passengers per hour. New escalators will be installed to help move passengers more quickly between the gate area and the ground floor. According to the NY1 cable news channel, the tower and bus terminal overhaul are to be completed by 2012.