Intercity Buses Curbed on the LES Last Night as Safety Crackdown Continues
A TLD tipster drew our attention last night to the intersection of East Broadway and Rutgers street. He told us a commuter tour bus had been “pulled over and taken out of commission.” As passengers unloaded, he said, the bus remained idling (for 10 minutes or so) and it blocked the pedestrian crosswalk.
We arrived on the scene shortly after 10 p.m. Inspectors from the State Department of Transportation were there, telling passengers that the bus would not be going anywhere for at least eight hours. There was a sticker on the windshield that read, “this vehicle may not be operated by anyone who is not in compliance with all hours of service criteria.”
The charter is operated by Jamerican Coach out of Jamaica, Queens. One woman said she and the other passengers are students who were returning to school at a college in upstate New York after the Thanksgiving holiday. Some passengers were being picked up by family members; others caught cabs. No one was very pleased.
A few hundred feet away, on Canal just west of Essex Street, inspectors had stopped a second bus. They told passengers an air leak had been detected in the brake system, but it was not considered a major violation, and the bus would be allowed back on the road.
The state has stepped up inspections of discount intercity bus companies in the past year, following a series of bad accidents and revelations of lax regulation of a rapidly growing industry. In another sweep in September and October, 116 bus drivers and 95 buses were pulled out of service. Inspectors have found many instances in which drivers lacked proper permits or had been on the road for too many hours without rest or sleep.
Last year, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and State Senator Daniel Squadron proposed legislation that would have created a permit system for intercity bus carriers. It passed the Assembly but stalled in the Senate. Squadron’s spokesperson told us last week the legislation will be re-introduced during the upcoming legislative session and it is one of the senator’s highest priorities.