(UPDATED) Greyhound to Move into Chinatown Bus Market after Law Change
Friday, August 17, 2012 - 05:19 PM
(New York, NY - WNYC) UPDATE: A source in the NY State Senate says this bill is now a state law. Here's a few of the law's main points:
Bus permit applications must include identification of the intercity bus company, buses to be used, and bus stop location(s) being requested; total number of buses and passengers expected to use each location; bus schedules; places where buses would park when not in use.
The city, prior to assigning an intercity bus stop, must consult with the local community board, including a 45 day notice and comment period.
Intercity bus permits would be for terms of up to three years; permits will cost up to $275 per vehicle annually; permits must be displayed on buses.
Intercity buses that load or unload passengers on city streets either without a permit or in violation of permit requirements or restrictions will face a fine of up to $1,000 for a first violation, up to $2,500 for repeat violations, and suspension or revocation of permit.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign a bill into law on Friday that would restrict where long distance bus companies can pick up and drop off passengers in New York City.
The bill becomes law if Governor Cuomo doesn't veto it by Friday at midnight, and would take effect after 90 days.
Greyhound and Peter Pan, two of the large carriers, are betting Cuomo will sign the bill: they're already vying for prime spots in Chinatown. Both have scheduled meetings next month with the transportation committee of Community Board 3 in Manhattan, which includes Chinatown.
The new law would require input from community boards before the NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority could grant bus parking permits to a company. The permits would cost $275 per bus and be good for up to three years. Companies that operate curbside without a permit would risk a fine of $1,000 for a first violation and $2,500 for repeat violations.
As of now, bus companies can load and unload passengers at most legal parking spots in the city. Residents and officials in Chinatown, where many long distance bus companies do business, say that's causing crowding and pollution.
Greyhound operates discount carrier Bolt Bus. However, Greyhound spokesman Jen Biddinger said that if the company gets the new permits, they'd go not to Bolt Bus but "a totally new service operated by Greyhound." She declined to say how many spots the company is angling for. Greyhound currently offers curbside service at 34th & 8th at Penn Station.
Two accidents last year involving low cost bus lines killed 17 people. In May, the U.S. Department of Transportation shut down 26 "Chinatown" bus lines for safety violations.
State Senator Daniel Squadron alluded to those events when endorsing the current bill, "This first-ever permit system will bring oversight to the growing and important low-cost bus industry, helping to end the wild west atmosphere while allowing us to identify problems before they become tragedies," he said.