Airports Reaching for New Heights of Passenger Safety

By Cheryl Albiez, Media Relations Staff

The Port Authority is going the extra mile when it comes to ensuring the health and safety of employees and passengers at its airports – whether its high-touch surfaces, new PPE vending machines, rigorous cleaning programs and disinfection of bathrooms and other common areas, and even hi-tech floor mats on the terminal floor.

At Newark Liberty International Airport, the staff has taken additional measures to supplement the frequent cleaning and disinfection protocols already in place to fight the spread of the virus, including the escalator handrails that provide support and prevent the risk of a slip and fall.

KONE Escalator Handrail Sterilizer Info Sheet_Page_1In Terminal B, handrail sterilizers are placed in the handrail balustrade enclosure, safely out of sight and out of reach of passengers. The durable LED bulb focuses germ-destroying light on the full width and sides of the handrail as it passes through, providing continual disinfection.

Newark Liberty also is actively offering personal protective equipment (PPE) to customers, located in vending machines with a logo that says “Clean & Safe Travels.” They are installed in Terminals A & B and items for purchase include disposable and washable face coverings, cleaning wipes, disposable gloves, and gels.  Most importantly, these units are easily accessible to passengers at all hours and limit exposure as they require no human interaction. IMG_4242 2020-06-22 18_23_08

In addition, Terminal B is piloting the use of sanitizing floor mats, which were created to disinfect the soles of the shoes of customers entering the terminals.

“The health and safety of our employees and the traveling public remains our top priority,” said Port Authority Aviation Director Huntley A. Lawrence. “I recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic has created a lot of anxiety for travelers. My team and I are working to implement several measures to keep all airport employees and customers safe and instill confidence in air travel.”

The results of these pilots will inform a broader airport rollout of more extensive safety protocols, particularly as the region continues on the road to economic and travel recovery. The airports are planning intensely for the phased resumption of its operations in line with guidance from the federal government and the states of New York and New Jersey. Significant and immediate steps have been initiated to limit access, further enhance cleaning and ensure full compliance with CDC guidelines.

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“We’re committed to ensuring that passengers have access to the essentials,” Lawrence said. “Limited food and beverage and travel essential retail options remain open in the terminals. As passenger volumes pick up, more stores will open with contactless payment methods and intuitive social-distancing markers.”principles

Through unified recovery efforts, the agency and its partners will be implementing leading-edge capabilities across its airports under four core principles: maximize hygiene, minimize contact, minimize access, and minimize dwell. 

Lawrence explained that the agency’s approach to protecting and facilitating the needs of passengers is comprehensive. “At virtually every turn, we are wiping, washing, spraying and sanitizing high touch point areas like check-in kiosks, hold room seating and concessions spaces,” said Lawrence. When hand-washing is not an immediate option, he said, hundreds of hand sanitizers in the terminals at check-in security, check-points, and near restrooms are available.

And for everyone’s safety, face coverings – over the nose and mouth – are required at the airports.

EWR Covid safety

“It won’t all be easy, but at the end of the day the customer journey will improve into a seamlessly connected, contactless passenger experience,” Lawrence said.

Posted in air travel, airport terminals, airports, AirTrain Newark, aviation, aviation geeks, Big Apple, coronavirus, COVID19, customer service, EWR, PATH Trains, Port Authority Trans-Hudson, Winter Storm Jonas, Port Region of New York and New Jersey, Portfolio, Uncategorized

In a Pandemic Recovery, Bike Commutes Are Where the Rubber Meets the Road

By Abigail Goldring, Media Relations Staff

Alex Levi, a principal architect in the Port Authority’s Engineering Department, has always been an avid bicyclist, cycling 30 minutes down the West Side Hudson River Greenway to his office at 4 World Trade Center twice a day, every day, rain, snow, or shine.

PA bikers, circa May 2019

On the other side of the river, Michelle Mayer, a supervising business analyst in the Operations Services Department, was committed to her daily routine of biking 12 minutes downhill from her Jersey City neighborhood to her office at the Port Authority Technical Center (PATC) before taking the 18-minute uphill trip back home after work.

But with both state’s executive orders for nonessential employees requiring them to work from home, Levi and Mayer have been missing their daily rides – times when they could just clear their heads and concentrate only on the open roads ahead of them.

As offices open back up in new phases of New York’s and New Jersey’s recoveries, cycling is becoming one of the few ways to get to and from work safely while also socially distancing during the pandemic. Bike sales are soaring as more people in urban areas seek alternatives to public transit without car ownership.

The Port Authority is uniquely prepared for a bike-friendly workforce, from just recently updating its bicycle policy, to steadily updating its facilities with bike access and amenities, to providing incentives for its own employees.

Earlier in 2020, the agency opened the Goethals Bridge’s first-ever shared use path for bicyclists and pedestrians. The Bayonne Bridge and the George Washington Bridge already have shared use paths that provide free access to pedestrians and cyclists alike. Last summer, Journal Square welcomed the Port Authority’s first Oonee Pod, a Brooklyn-based secure bike storage facility. And in 2019, discounted bike-share memberships became available for Port Authority employees.

Day One of the Goethals Bridge shared-use path, March 2020

The Port Authority Board of Commissioners adopted the agency’s first bicycle policy in 2010. Since then, a group of 50 employees known as the Bicycle Working Group has carried out the ambitious goals laid out in the Bicycle Master Plan, most recently updated in 2017 to reflect an upward trend across the region and the continued renovation of the World Trade Center site. Now, that trend is undeniable.

Senior Economic Analyst Cristina Ruiz plans to bike almost everywhere as emergency orders are lifted. “Once we open up, I plan to use bicycling as a primary mode for transportation for as many things as possible, from commuting to groceries, and leisure,” she said.

Matt Walker, a principal engineer, can’t make the whole journey on bicycle from his home in Long Island. But when he starts commuting again, he won’t miss a beat picking up his old routine riding from Penn Station to 4 World Trade. “Nothing beats getting out into the open air after a long train ride,” he said.

Oonee Pod at Journal Square (credit: Noah Benus)

Last year, Port Authority employees biked more than 11,000 miles on CitiBikes, reducing over 9,000 pounds of carbon emissions. With today’s health and safety concerns, biking may offer commuters a bit of relief. Not to mention, it’s good for the environment and people’s health.

Kirsten Jones, co-chair of the Bicycle Working Group and a customer service supervisor at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, is a big believer in the benefits of biking. “When more people ride bicycles, it creates a more livable place for everyone. There is less congestion, cleaner air, safer streets, fewer sick days, longer life expectancy, a better economy, and less wear and tear on the roads,” she said.

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Queens Seniors Soaring to New Heights at LGA

By Abbie Goldring, Media Relations Staff

Suraiya Nawaz has always been eager to learn about aviation and to start on a career path that would allow her to turn her passion into reality.

Now, that dream is about to take flight. Nawaz is one of five outstanding Queens high school seniors awarded full scholarships to Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, complete with the promise of a full-time job with the Port Authority upon graduation. The awards were made possible by a unique local partnership among the Port Authority, Vaughn College, and LaGuardia Airport’s redevelopment program.

Suraiya Nawaz

“I’ve always wanted to work with planes, and I know how rare it is for students to have guaranteed jobs before they even start their first year of college,” said Nawaz, who lives in East Elmhurst. “This scholarship is a big help for me and my family financially. I feel very grateful to have been selected.”

The other students receiving scholarships are: Kristian Nieves and Alvin King from East Elmhurst, Anton DeGuzman from Corona, and Chasisty Melo from Astoria. The program is in its second year, building on the successes of the inaugural scholarship year in which all six scholarship winners from last year are interning remotely this summer – due to COVID-19 – with the Port Authority Aviation Department, the LaGuardia General Manager’s Office, and the LaGuardia Redevelopment program.

Chasisty Melo

“The scholarship program awarded through the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is a critical steppingstone for young researchers in communities of color interested in the city’s scientific space. The importance of more diversity in the STEM field cannot be overstated,” said NYS Assemblyman and Speaker Pro Tempore Jeff Aubry, who represents the district. “Providing students access to reality-based, high impact technological work makes science more real, relevant and doable. And, in many cases awards a student with the financial stability and pathway to college.”

Chasisty Melo will be pursuing a degree in Mechatronic Engineering, a highly specialized major that only a handful of schools across the U.S. offer. With an advanced background in electrical, mechanical, and computer engineering, she hopes to develop and improve aviation systems. “This scholarship has given me the opportunity to pursue a career that I am passionate about,” she said. “By removing the financial burden of tuition, I will be able to dedicate all my time to my education and development. This scholarship has made it financially possible for me to attend college.”

Anton DeGuzman

This year, applications increased to 46, including 24 from areas designated as priority communities for their proximity to LaGuardia Airport: East Elmhurst, Astoria, and Corona.

DeGuzman also is pursuing a degree in Mechatronic Engineering starting this fall. He is determined to complete the challenging coursework since it means that he’ll be able to work on important projects in the future that help make people’s lives easier.

“When this scholarship comes up in a conversation, I always say how thankful I am for the financial assistance and working opportunities that it provides,” he said. “Like I always do, I will give the next several years my best effort, never giving up along the way.”

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