STATE — Activity levels at the Port Authority’s six bistate crossings and PATH mass-transit system continued to decline during the first quarter of 2010.
Traffic at the Port Authority’s airports rose slightly during the period and cargo volumes at the bistate agency’s seaports increased 9.6 percent over 2009, though port activity remains 6 percent below first quarter 2008 levels.
During the first three months of 2010, the following activity levels were reported at Port Authority facilities:
· At the Port Authority’s six bistate crossings, traffic dropped 2 percent – from 28.1 million vehicles in the first three months of 2010 to 27.5 million vehicles during the same period in 2009.
· Truck traffic, which generates significant revenue for the Port Authority, declined by 2.1 percent. The decline in truck traffic reflects the continued economic downtown, including reduced consumer spending.
· PATH ridership declined 1.9 percent – from 17.4 million passengers during the first three months of 2009 to 17.1 million passengers during the same period this year.
· At the Port Authority’s major airports, traffic rose 1.3 percent during the first three months of 2010, buoyed by a 5.8 percent increase in international travel. Domestic travel fell 0.8 percent. The slight rebound followed a 4.8 percent drop in airport passengers in 2009.
· Traffic at the major seaport terminals showed improvement, with loaded cargo containers measured in TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) increasing 9.6 percent during the first three months of 2010 as compared to the same period in 2009. Imports rose 9.8 percent during the first quarter of 2010, while exports were up 9.6 percent. The increase follows a significant decline in 2009 when seaport cargo dropped 12.7 percent, the biggest one-year decline in nearly 25 years. As a result, port activity still remains 6 percent below first quarter 2008 levels.
The Port Authority said its own fiscal condition remained sound due to numerous cost-containment efforts the agency has taken in anticipation of the economic decline, including the implementation of two consecutive years of zero-growth operating budgets, staff reductions, and the prioritization and scaling back of its long-term capital program.
Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia said, “The latest numbers show that the national recession continues to impact our businesses, though we’re beginning to witness signs of a return to growth in the future. In the meantime, we will continue to control costs and to meet our commitments.”
Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward said, “The Port Authority is not recession proof, and the agency’s traffic volumes continue to lag the nation’s economic recovery. That is why we will continue to take the fiscal measures necessary to ensure the agency meets its obligations to the region on a sound financial footing.”
Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni said, “Until the economy fully rebounds, we’re working hard to prioritize and build the transportation projects that will provide the greatest benefits to our customers and to the region.”
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