What do we have here? On the left, that’s a city bus attempting to pull into a regular MTA bus stop in front of 125 East Broadway. On the right, you have an intercity bus, operated by GD Tour Inc., using the curbside space illegally — preventing the MTA driver from safely stopping. Last night, Community Board 3’s transportation Committee voted to grant GT Tour a permit for this very spot.
Like many other intercity operators, the Brooklyn-based firm has flouted state law requiring all companies using New York City streets to load and unload passengers only from locations approved by the Department of Transportation. As you can see from pictures posted by the website Save NYC Streets, GT Tour has been “sharing” the MTA stop since at least the fall of 2014. This month, the firm is trying to go legit.
Last night, the CB3 panel reluctantly signed off on two daily stops (one departure and one arrival) at noon and 7:30 p.m. Emma Culbert, head of the SPaCE block association strongly opposed the approval, saying there is “a constant stream of buses back and forth… It is creating a dangerous situation.” Trever Holland, a committee member, also spoke against the application. “Seniors are forced out into the street” to board the city bus, he said. Holland showed other board members a video illustrating his point.
David Crane, another committee member, agreed that there’s a problem and that the state regulatory law is not working as it was intended. But he argued there was no point in rejecting an application the Transportation Department is almost certain to approve. There have been other cases, he explained, in which the board has successfully made a case against a specific location. “I don’t think we can make a strong case to deny this one,” he said.
Also during last night’s meeting, committee members discussed plans for an Intercity Bus Town Hall Meeting on Dec. 1. It’s meant to address problems with the state legislation and the city’s implementation of the law. A number of agency officials, including top brass from the NYPD, will be in attendance. It’s being coordinated with State Sen. Daniel Squadron.
Since the bus permit system was put in place, the number of operators in the area around East Broadway and Pike streets has ballooned. Many of them are operating illegally. Police have handed out a large number of tickets against violators. But bus company owners have said they simply consider those tickets the “cost of doing business.”
Even the most fundamental parts of the bus regulation system have been difficult to implement. Just this week, Culbert renewed a longstanding complaint that 311 operators have no category in their computers for buses using a location illegally. Last night, CB3 District Manager Susan Stetzer said she has brought the matter to the attention of city officials. Repeated past efforts to correct the 311 oversight have been unsuccessful.
The bus town hall will take place at 6:30 p.m, at P.S. 124, 40 Division St.