Residents Protest Proposed Essex Street Bus Stop

If you walked past the intersection of Essex and Canal streets over the holiday weekend you probably noticed flyers like this one — alerting residents to a proposal from interstate bus companies to establish new bus stops on the Lower East Side.  Community activists have launched a petition drive to stop the plans and are urging like-minded neighbors to attend an upcoming Community Board 3 meeting where the requests will be heard.

Greyhound and Peter Pan are asking for a stop at 3 Essex Street (park side) for a route between New York and Philadelphia. There would be 28 arrivals and departures as early as 7 a.m. and as late as 9:15 p.m.  In a separate application, Lucky River Transportation Company has requested a stop at 55 Chrystie Street for service to and from Boston.  there could be as many as 21 pick-ups and drops-offs daily.

Residents of the Seward Park Cooperative (located just to the east of Essex Street) and the 7 Essex condominium (located right in front of the proposed stop) have been particularly vocal in their opposition.  On the “Friends of Seward Park” web site, a number of reasons are listed to fight the plan:

1- This is a quiet little residential neighborhood that will be forever changed by having a bus stop with 28 trips/day (from early morning to late at night) with crowds of passengers. Shouldn’t a bus stop be located in more of a commercial area?; 2- It is right outside a park, a children’s playground-park.; 3- There will be bus fumes affecting the children and other park-goers; 4- Passengers will crowd the Seward fountain area, creating further deterioration of this historic monument; 5- Long lines of passengers with their luggage will crowd the sidewalks and spill into the streets; 6- Many passengers will wait in the park, bring food, and leave trash in their wake; 7- Lots of trash will also be left on the street outside the park as passengers leave behind the coffee cups and food wrappers as they race to board the buses; 8- Waiting bus passengers will also likely choose little Strauss Square as their hang-out place; 9. Unfortunately those waiting a long time may choose to relieve themselves in the park.

So far about 360 people have signed an online petition.

Last Month, Governor Cuomo signed legislation setting up a permit system for interstate buses.  The law, which was sponsored by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senator Daniel Squadron, was intended to change the “wild west” atmosphere that had developed in Chinatown and the Lower East Side in recent years, following the rapid expansion of the discount bus industry. The idea was to give the city’s Transportation Department the authority to designate parking spots for bus companies.  The local community board had been pressing lawmakers for a solution to the chaotic situation for several years. The law does not go into effect until November. But according to Susan Stetzer, CB3 district manager, the DOT decided to deal with these two applications now.  In the months ahead, it’s likely that dozens of bus stop applications will flow through CB3′s transportation committee. The DOT has the final say but the legislation requires the city to seek community input.  In an email message Stetzer said:

This (new system) will reduce traffic congestion and improve quality of life as well as safety. The buses will have a place to safely and legally load and unload.  We are not adding bus stops. We are assigning bus stops to replace random locations for loading and unloading.  Federal laws regarding intercity buses do not allow us to deny stops. However, the new legislation allows the city to assign the stops. This will give DOT an opportunity to review the locations and choose those of less impact on residents and other businesses. Buses will not be allowed to stop at any unassigned locations. This will prevent illegal, unlicensed buses from stopping for passengers. It will enable inspection of buses for safety criteria.  Bus companies will have to provide information as to where they will layover and where their garage facilities are located. Buses are already  not allowed to lay over or idle—this will be loading and unloading only, but this should facilitate enforcement of no idling or illegal layovers.  There will also be 6 month permits that will allow us to see if there are any issues with the stop. New legislation allows for community input. Community members know their community better than anyone else. They can give insight as to reasons that some stops might have negative impact.  The legislation provides for suspension for failure to comply with regulations.

We have reached out to the DOT for more information on the bus permit issue. We’ll have a followup this week.

CB3′s transportation committee meets Tuesday, September 11, 6:30 p.m. at University Settlement, 184 Eldridge Street.

 

 

Related
  • Rima Finzi-Strauss

    Great article!!
    No Greyhound bus stop at or near Seward Park!! A 6 month period, would only likely be extended to 3 years. We cannot let behemoth Greyhound/Peter Pan set up shop here in our wonderful, gentle historic neighborhood. Seward Park is the oldest municipal playground in the entire United States – from 1902. Let them choose one of the many commercial streets some distance away. Also, why should Greyhound get special treatment from NYDOT? Why couldn’t their application have waited to be heard will all of the rest of the buses in Chinatown. Not fair!

  • http://twitter.com/benofonte benofonte

    Isn’t it time to get a bus terminal on Lower Manhattan? Really, all metropolitan areas around the world have multiple terminals.

  • Tobi

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to locate bus terminals near transportation hubs outside Manhattan? Near PATH and NJ Transit in New Jersey for buses going to Phila. and DC. In the Bronx or Queens near an express subway stop for buses going north. People are taking subways to get to bus stops anyway, why not encourage the buses to stay off of downtown streets and at the same time improve trip times.

  • Kaitlyn

    Of course! The issue is not that there should or shouldn’t be a terminal. The issue is where the terminal will be located. In this case, the selected location happens to be in the middle of a residential neighborhood, beside one of the few parks in Lower Manhattan. This terminal would be much better placed elsewhere – a bus station at 86 Allen St. was shut down in May of this year, so recently that all the signage is still up. Why can’t Greyhound open their terminal there? Why must they disrupt the natural order of the Seward Park neighborhood?

  • Blossom

    Greyhound yesterday announced cutting the number of buses at this stop to 8 buses in each direction daily. A clever tactic before the upcoming CB3 Board meeting to dampen opposition? Once ‘in’ the bus stop they can easily increase number of buses back to the originally requested 14 in each direction.

    Also, Greyhound announced, via NY1, that there will be no access of its passengers to Seward Park. That’s not legal- they cannot prevent people from using a public park, and they certainly would not have the staff to prevent passengers from straggling through the entrance.

  • A. Robinson

    I am mystified as to why our elected officials, DOT and CB3 would think that Essex Street in front of Seward Playground is a proper and helpful spot for an interstate bus stop. Hopefully all of them will come to their senses,however, if this comes to pass now we must keep opposing this very, very bad idea for our neighborhood. The politics of this decision should not come first. This is only the first skirmish and we, the people of this neighborhood, must not allow a beachhead to be established. Greyhound may start with 8 pickups but that is just the beginning. Once their run is established the other bus carriers will want in as well. Here is the name and mailing address of the CEO of Greyhound for anyone might wish to contact him about this situation. Mr. Dave Leach
    President and Chief Executive Officer
    Greyhound Lines, Inc.
    15110 Dallas Pkwy, Suite 600
    Dallas, TX 75248-4635

  • Chuck

    We now have over 1000 signatures. Please lend your support!

  • DMDouek

    It is not just about the park . That particular street is a hub for children. Students going to PS 2, Ps 42, Education Alliance, Head Start and REd Apple Daycare must cross along that block to get to school . Allso many of the students walk alone. The schools use Seward Park for field trips and nature walks. These school also use the Seward Park library which is adjoining the park all day during . Middle schoolers with no place to go, play there and do there homework.

    There is a reason I moved here from 28th st. eleven years ago. I like the quiet residential aura. The green is a haven from midtown. I like that families and the elderly can stroll along the park. I can’t get out of the city whenever I want so for now this is my Hamptons. NYC is willing to put promades in Times Square, beaches along the river for a better quality of life yet they have no problem taking our piece of heaven.

  • caroline

    Definitely a better alternative for everybody Tobi. See you all tomorrow at 6:30pm so we can put an end to this insanity. Info for the meeting posted below:
    http://www.friendsofsewardpark.org

  • http://twitter.com/benofonte benofonte

    I agree. I live across the street from the proposed stop. I meant a “real” terminal, like port authority where you group all the buses in the area in one single place and not having them all scattered in multiple locations.