NYC DOT: Megabus Can Continue Curbside Pickup by Bus Terminal

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(Photo CC by Flickr user Nick Busse)

The buses stay at the sidewalk... right in front of the bus station.

That's what New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan told reporters Monday: discount bus carrier Megabus can continue to pick up passengers at the curb right outside the city's main bus terminal. "For now, they're going to stay," she said, before adding a caveat: "This is not a permanent solution."

As curbside bus ridership--including so-called Chinatown bus companies--has risen faster than any other mode of transportation, the prevalence of idling motorcoaches on city streets around the country has caused frustration. Neighbors bemoan the crowded sidewalks. Fellow drivers say the buses clog traffic and take up parking spaces. And the proprietors of bus stations, along with the companies that pay to use them, cry foul when a curbside carrier picks up passengers just a block or two away from the terminal. That's  what Megabus has been doing near New York's Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan.

The Port Authority of NY/NJ, the agency in charge of the terminal, is one of those complaining. Executive Director Pat Foye has called for Megabus to move to another location.

Sadik-Khan said she hadn't spoken to the Port Authority about the problem. But she explained that, "we moved [Megabus] there because of the safety and congestion concerns that we got in front of Penn Station," about 10 blocks away. "What we really need is a comprehensive solution." NYC DOT has long petitioned state legislators to allow it greater control over where curbside carriers can stop. Right now the state holds that power. It is not clear how the NYC DOT would comprehensively re-order curbside pickup locations if it had the authority, but the agency is in talks with local community boards about suggested locations.

Washington D.C. started charging a fee last year on curbside buses for using parking spaces, which  are city real estate. Shortly thereafter, D.C. moved discount carriers off the curb into a special section inside the parking lot of Union Station train terminal, a few inconvenient blocks away from the city's lamented bus station. That plan has generally been well received.