“Save LES Streets” Site Launches to Track Intercity Bus Mess

95 Canal St. Photo from "Save LES Streets" web site.

95 Canal St. Photo from “Save LES Streets” web site.

In the past few months, residents on the Lower East Side have been fighting an onslaught from the Chinatown bus industry.  Now some concerned locals have created a web site to draw attention to the problems caused by too many companies operating – legally and illegally – in a confined area. The Save LES Streets site carries the tag line, “LES is not a bus depot. Help save our streets!”

Among other features, the site documents every intercity bus stop in the neighborhood. According to their perusal of online bus schedules and on-the-street observations, there are 55 operators. Only 17 have been permitted by the Department of Transportation.  Save LES Streets reports that there are 38 bus companies maneuvering the streets of the Lower East Side and Chinatown illegally.  A state law implemented last year requires bus companies to hold city permits and to load/unload passengers only in designated areas.

The web site also includes a bus map, photos and links to additional information.  There’s a tip line for people to send in their own observations and pictures regarding bus operators.

Earlier this year, the SPaCE Block Association launched a petition drive to oppose more bus permits in the neighborhood. Members of that group are working with Community Board 3 to conduct a similar neighborhood survey detailing intercity bus operations.

A few more photos from the new site:

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  • Naftali Bechar

    I support the website. We need to organize a large group of volunteer who when they are out in the neighborhood take photos and information on bus activity.
    Very shortly we will be able to collect data demonstrating the extant of the problem which we can use to advance our case to city and state agencies and officials.

    naftali bechar

  • http://www.tuffles.org TUFF-LES

    Absolutely, the website is a welcomed effort to shed light on this illegal (bootleg and fly-by-night) bus activity; one of many aggravating factors degrading the quality of life on the Lower East Side. They need to build a depot somewhere or move the buses to one that exists, but return our streets back to the community.

  • RimaLES

    If there are 50 plus separate intercity bus companies plying this area- most clearly illegally- why is nothing being done about this by the politicians – Chin, Squadron, Silver ? They sponsored the 2012 NYS bus legislation to clean up the chaos but yet they have done virtually nothing since to ensure that the legislation was properly implemented. Shouldn’t they have been actively on top of this since August 2012?

  • nycya

    All I see when groups like this plaster the term “LES” all over what is clearly Chinatown, are people trying to ignore the obvious Chinese influence (domination) of the neighborhood, and even hope to push them out. Let me tell you as a third generation New Yorker, they’re not going anywhere.

    To quote the Save LES Streets site:
    “…the Chinatown bus companies that clog and crowd our streets. Such information is vital to understanding the true extent of the saturation of our area by bus companies which largely serve passengers who live elsewhere.”

    These buses provide a valuable service to countless people. New Yorkers and not. Does it matter if they’re not locals? Xenophobic much? “Our streets” belong just as much to the bus companies as they do you and me.

    Yes they need to be regulated better, but personally, as someone who LIVES in Chinatown, I’d prefer the current system over a Port-Authority like mega depot that no one will want to live near, will attract all sorts of shady characters, and likely require a police force (again, just like the Port Authority).

    Who wants that?

    What we do need, everywhere in this city, is POLICE enforcement of moving violations for EVERY class of Motor-vehicle. Buses, trucks, private cars, taxis, etc.
    Some jerk, alone in a sedan, racing home to Queens at the end of the day provides no value to the community by driving his car, and is just as likely, if not more likely to injure people on his way.

  • Peter J

    “Our streets belong just as much to the bus companies as they do the citizens who live here?” Wow that’s quite a statement. You belong on the Supreme Court. Diesel exhaust is free speech, am I right?!

    Cleaning up this horrible bus mess, that nearly all actual residents of the area despise, is not xenophobia. It’s common sense.

  • http://www.tuffles.org TUFF-LES

    Let’s not get all nitpicky about LES versus Chinatown as Chinatown is clearly on the Lower East Side, period. But just to nitpick a second; the borders of Chinatown is anything but clear and in fact remains a contentious issue, though Chinatown still does not cross Pike/Allen Street, while illegal bus activity does.

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748703722804575369563615725370

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748703293204576106391538309256

    http://www.ccrcnyc.com/2010/07/chinatown-partnership-ldc-causing-rift.html

    http://www.chinatownpartnership.org/pdf/chinatownservicearea.pdf

    Nevertheless, what one chooses to call the area is irrelevant. Drug dealers provide a valuable service to their customers as well; surely what provides so-called value to transient/LES non-resident folks cannot be the only criteria for why a diverse community with varying and often conflicting interests should put up with all this undesirable and unregulated traffic.

    Better to consider the value these folks bring to the local business community. At least that’s more real and relevant than the value to “…countless people.” Though some people wouldn’t want to live next to a depot; it’s far better than turning our streets over a broader area into one. And it’s not the depot building that will attract those “shady characters.” It’s the presence of the transient people commuting who are often easy prey; so predators will come in increasing numbers depot or not.

    Keep it in Chinatown (if you’re happy with it), with all the sidewalk clutter, garbage, decaying and smelly dried meat/fish juice on the streets and choking hustle-bustle; at least that’s a business area. People are just getting fed up with what’s spilling over into more residential spaces; where people are raising their families as it’s threatening what has long been a quiet little pocket on the Lower East Side. It’s not xenophobic to not want an interstate bus stop in front of your door with herds of people crowded on an already cluttered sidewalk. In most places in the city there are space restrictions on what a business can put on a sidewalk; it doesn’t seem to matter on LES streets. I’ve personally hit my head on make-shift awnings and low-hanging signage in Chinatown, been hit with hand trucks as the streets are veritable loading docks; not to mention you have to walk in the street if you don’t have all the time in the world to navigate the daily crush of people. Fortunately, for most that don’t live in the middle of that; we don’t have to put up with it. However, these buses are mobile and operating all over the area.

    Chinatown is an indelible part of the LES and indeed New York City and of course it’s not going anywhere, but insofar as you’ve linked the bus situation to Chinatown and described it as “domination” it sounds more like hubris. This is not a game or competition; it’s a simple quality of life issue with a possible solution that balances the interests of all stakeholders. It shouldn’t be anything goes, just because Chinatown wants it; to put it simply.

  • RimaLES

    Bravo, Tuff-LES! So well said!

    I’m sure that ‘countless people’ in the neighborhood agree with you!

    Indeed it is a simple quality of life issue, and these streets certainly do not ‘belong’ to the bus operators , as nycya wrote.

    While the majority of bus passengers used to be local Chinese residents, this is definitely no longer the case and instead most of the passengers are from Brooklyn (coming by subway or being dropped off by cars- that further block our streets). Why should our neighborhood be burdened with serving the transportation needs of Brooklynites? So many of these bus stops could be relocated by NYC DOT to Brooklyn!

  • chucklin72

    I’m Chinese and I built the site. I live in the area that is geographically LES. I don’t need to rebrand it as Chinatown just because there are lots of Chinese businesses and families living here.
    I live in the middle of this bus mess and I absolutely hate it. It brings congestion, pollution, noise, and garbage. I don’t feel that I’m being xenophobic for wanting a better quality of life.

  • http://www.tuffles.org TUFF-LES

    nycya, you brought up “Chinatown influence” or “domination,” as though you were winning some kind of contest and pushing back against sore losers crying foul.

    The fact that there are families living in Chinatown only emphasizes the critique of the poor quality of life issues you readily acknowledge. We don’t need to expand those issues to the broader neighborhood.

    Ironically, in your quest to nay-say so-called NIMBY’s you stress the point that people are raising families in Chinatown; totally missing the my point. I was not advocating to put illegal bus stops in Chinatown and nor was I saying that people didn’t live in Chinatown. What I was saying was if you like it so much KEEP IT in Chinatown as residents there have already acclimated themselves to the current quality of life as degraded by current poor standards. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, Chinatown is far more commercial than the surrounding residential areas.

    Again YOU linked the bus issue to Chinatown, not me. And I’ll repeat, insofar as you connect them I lay responsibility there. So if it is a boon to Chinatown as you would suggest; then all the more reason Chinatown should accommodate a depot. But, no the NIMBY in YOU says you don’t want to live next to a depot. Chinatown as you theorize (and you by extension I assume as a Chinatown resident) want to reap all the commercial benefits exclusively, while sharing all the degradation. According to you, better to irritate, annoy and degrade the quality of everyone’s life in the broader Chinatown area, not so much the most interested parties who actually stand to benefit.

    Feel free to represent the perspective of a bus company, business or beholden politician, but please spare us the ridiculous notion that you’re actually representing the viewpoint of a resident who actually likes “…garbage, traffic issues and lack law…” and all the issues make-shift interstate bus stops create.

    If you’re not a political or corporate shill hacking for the beneficiaries of this situation, you need to have your head examined because you’re not acting in your own interests; the hell with what you think is a logical argument – how on earth does this rampant bus situation improve the quality of life for a LES/Chinatown resident?

  • RimaLES

    Tuff-LES

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you wrote to nycya:

    “Feel free to represent the perspective of a bus company, business or beholden politician, but please spare us the ridiculous notion that you’re actually representing the viewpoint of a resident who actually likes “…garbage, traffic issues and lack law…” and all the issues make-shift interstate bus stops create.

    If you’re not a political or corporate shill hacking for the beneficiaries of this situation, you need to have your head examined because you’re not acting in your own interests; the hell with what you think is a logical argument – how on earth does this rampant bus situation improve the quality of life for a LES/Chinatown resident?”

    I wish these two paragraphs could be posted as signs all over our besieged neighborhood!

  • http://www.tuffles.org TUFF-LES

    Thanks RimaLES, now that you mention it; i agree it is a stand-alone excerpt that would need little or no context for most Lower East Siders to understand and many to agree with.

    Perhaps printing some stickers and slapping them up in a few key places is more doable (hmmmm), lol. ;-)

  • D Mayer

    Please don’t play the race-card in an issue that has nothing to do with race. We need these buses and they provide a valuable service. There should be bus depots all over NYC, not just at the Port Authority and 125th St. But it should be done orderly and legally. And no, the streets do NOT belong to the bus companies.