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Followup: Yo! Bus Expands Service, New Permits

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Pike Street between Division Street and Canal.
Pike Street between Division Street and Canal.

On Tuesday night, Community Board 3’s transportation committee dealt with several issues related to “Chinatown bus” permits.  We weren’t able to attend but spoke with CB3 District Manager Susan Stetzer following the hearing.

First off, she gave committee members an update concerning Yo! Bus’s permit for a loading and unloading operation being run from Pike Street near Canal.  On Monday, Yo! announced it would be adding service to Boston from the Lower East Side/Chinatown location.  The company, owned by Greyhound and Peter Pan, began offering New York/Philadelphia service late last year.  A Community Board 3 resolution approved in November allows Yo! to operate up to 14 round trips from Pike Street.  Earlier this week, there was confusion about the new route and fears that Greyhound might be going beyond the number of trips CB3 and the city’s Department of Transportation approved.

At the meeting, Stetzer said she had spoken with Greyhound representatives and DOT officials, who gave assurances that the total number of round trips would not exceed 14.  Effective today, there are 8 round trips to Philadelphia and 6 round trips to Boston. DOT officials have promised to come back to CB3 if Yo! asks to go beyond the levels already approved.  Stetzer also addressed complaints from residents that Yo! buses are straying from the routes Greyhound officials said they would be following on and out of the neighborhood.  Officials, she said, have indicated the city does not have the authority to dictate to bus companies which streets they use.

On Tuesday, the CB3 committee approved two permits for companies operating from a single stop at 18 Allen Street.  No. 1 Bus Tour Inc., operating service to Virginia, plans a total of 8 arrivals/departures daily.  Eastern Coach, Inc., with service to Washington, D.C., will have 11 arrivals/departures weekly and 15 on the weekends.

Meanwhile, the community board is still waiting on the DOT to implement a new state law setting up a permit system for intercity buses.  There was plenty of evidence along Allen Street Monday afternoon that the neighborhood continues to be a free-for-all for interstate bus operators.

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Just a few feet from the Yo! stop, this bus attempted to navigate around another carrier on Division Street. We counted six “Chinatown buses” within a two block stretch of Allen Street.

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Originally, CB3 had been scheduled to consider an application from Fung Wah Bus Company for a permit at 139 Canal Street. But given the company’s ongoing troubles with the federal government (Fung Wah was shut down due to safety violations March 1), the DOT rejected its request and the community board advised company officials to postpone their appearance.  The new Yo! Boston route is meant to capitalize on Fung Wah’s demise.


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  1. This is probably just the beginning of Greyhound’s domination of the ‘Chinatown’ bus market. When you state 14 round trips, it sounds like nothing- but remember this means 28 buses per day with a potential for 50 passengers per bus for a grand total of 1,400 people clogging up this little slice of Allen Street.

    The streets will get more and more crowded with buses as Greyhound adds more routes in the future with the Papal-like blessing of their friends at the NYCDOT and CB3. Is this a wonderful bus company? Aren’t they the folks known around the U.S. for the creepy convict guaranteed to be in the seat next to you? and for the high prices they charge once they have a corned a market? And how about on-time performance – just take a look at Greyhound’s reviews on Yelp.com.

    Meanwhile, forget about enforcement. NYCDOT indicated at the CB3 meeting that they have no real enforcement. There is simply not the manpower. This means that there will continue to be the same chaotic wild-west scene here as the Feds continue to close down Chinatown bus companies and new ones pop up overnight. Not to mention all the small white Chinatown vans that might likely takeover some of the long distance routes from closed companies.

  2. Take a look at those pictures an ask yourself if this is how we want the LES to look like in the near future. These chinatown buses are changing the landscape of this area faster then any type of bar, club or related gentrification.
    Three buses stations within a block or so on a already narrowed street. And this is the main thoroughfare to the waterfront? It’s already over saturated. Although there is no heavy protest, it’s mainly because that area houses mostly immigrants. But for those who live nearby, you will start to see your immediate neighborhood degrade into port authority type entry and exit lanes.
    If we can’t stop the buses at least we can look into narrowing streets or making them more restrictive/less attractive to bus companies. I don’t even think the developers (new lux hotel coming to that block) are aware that this is happening so fast. I certainly wouldn’t buy anything in front of one of these stops.
    Short of continuing to call federal regulators, we may just have to wait until the unthinkable happens again. Then maybe the DOT will find a way to gain some enforcement power.
    I know, I know, your saying, “at least it’s not my block”. Well, not yet.

  3. If things continue like now the future landscape will be : 1) The Feds continuing to shut down Chinatown bus companies one by one, but new companies popping up overnight to take their place; 2) Greyhound and others like Megabus, Bolt, etc. expanding further into this market; 3) a further proliferation of white minivans replacing the larger Chinatown bus companies. As Dean Brownless writes there is already over saturation. There is little or no oversight/enforcement now by NYCDOT, NYSDOT, and the NYPD. The Feds don’t have the time to regularly monitor the situation.

  4. These buses don’t appear miraculously at their pickup up/drop off spots in CB3. If they use the Holland tunnel at all, cb1 and cb2 should also be asked to weigh in. These buses pollute our air, are noise polluters as well, and clog our roadways. They are a quality of life and health nightmare. This law to legitimize them was a mistake. They should be fined up the gazoo until they stop OR they should pay the city more than buses using the port authority bus terminal do, with most of the collected funds to be earmarked towards a new terminal. Lower Manhattan should not be a bus terminal.

  5. You think this would happen in the Upper West Side? I don’t see any of the Chinese community leaders saying anything about this. Shame.

  6. No where is it written in stone that the Lower East Side should be NYC’s major outdoor bus terminal ( after 34th Street)

    The NYC Dept of Bicycle Lanes ( NYCDOT) needs to get the message that we are not a curbside bus dumping grounds!

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