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Followup: Chinatown Bus Chaos

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Pike Street between East Broadway and Division streets. Photo by Albert Chan.

We’ve been following the fight by the people who live along a stretch of Pike Street to get those ubiquitous Chinatown buses away from their doorsteps. Last night they took the battle to the transportation Committee of Community Board 3. While the committee was sympathetic to their ordeal – Committee Chairman David Crane made it clear the problem is much bigger than a single bus stop on one street.

The residents said the buses make their lives miserable from 6 in the morning until 11:30 at night… idling… drawing huge crowds of waiting passengers, loitering on the corners. They even said passengers were camping out in the lobbies of their buildings, waiting for buses to depart. Lots of charter buses, offering discount fares to major destinations along the east coast, simply stop to load and unload passengers wherever they can find a spot.

But, in this case the city’s Department of Transportation actually issued the bus company a permit for Pike Street, right in front of two apartment buildings. A DOT representative at the meeting said, however, the permit only allows the company to pick up and drop off passengers- not to stand on the corner and sell tickets to passers by. One of the residents said a representative showed up at a NYPD community meeting and, when confronted about the problem, simply shrugged his shoulders and was “really callous about the complaints.”  The CB3 committee passed a resolution asking the DOT to revoke the permit. They asked the city to send investigators to Pike Street to investigate.

Crane explained that the interstate bus business had become so large and popular that banning them from the city was unrealistic. He said the City Planning Department is conducting a study to find out what’s going on throughout Manhattan. Crane said he suspects they’ll come up with a master plan in about six months. The difficulty he said, is drafting guidelines that will withstand legal challenges.

In the meantime, Crane suggested the group also address the full community board meeting later this month. And the DOT has promised not to approve any more permits without going through the community boards.

A few blocks away last night at the 7th Precinct community meeting, police officials acknowledged the buses are a big problem. They write a large number of citations every week. The officials said it’s illegal for the private buses to pull up to MTA bus stops. However, this was contradicted by the DOT spokesperson at the community board meeting, who said the charter buses are allowed to use the public bus stops in the city.

See our previous coverage here.


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