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Transportation Nation

Curbs Empty in NY's Chinatown After Bus Crackdown

Friday, June 01, 2012

Local mini-buses take over what is usually a bustling Chinatown bus stop at East Broadway in Manhattan. (Photo by Alex Goldmark)

The biggest curbside bus stop in Chinatown has no buses.

The popular East Broadway stop under the Manhattan Bridge — typically abuzz with ticket sellers, passengers and idling sparsely labeled motorcoaches — was no more than a quiet side street Friday afternoon, a day after the federal government shut down 26 bus operators in the single largest safety crackdown of the industry.

Two blocks away, he Chinatown office of New Century Travel, one of the operators shut down in the sweep, was shuttered on Friday afternoon. The company operated routes to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., leaving no clear option for a Chinatown to D.C. bus trip. That route was one of the first to become popular -- originally with college students and other very price sensitive travelers -- a key step in helping the curbside bus model spread from a cheap alternative to Greyhound for supercommuting members of the Chinese community and into the a mainstream mode of travel it has become. Curbside buses are the fastest growing mode of travel in the nation.

Speaking in Chinatown Thursday, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that over the course of a year-long investigation, his agency learned these companies were "blatantly and repeatedly" violated federal safety laws, including using drivers without valid commercial licenses and failing to do drug and alcohol testing.

"Shutting them down will save lives," LaHood said.

Teams of officials for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, armed with legal orders declaring the bus operations imminent hazards to public safety, swooped down Wednesday on companies based in six states: Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Officials withheld details about the operation until Thursday.

The shutdown orders were aimed at the companies' headquarters and at bus pickup locations. Most of the 233 bus routes serviced by the companies either departed from or terminated in New York City's Chinatown district. The DOT says the routes shut down served 1,800 passengers a day.

Not all companies were shut down, Fung Wah bus, arguably the most well known brand of Chinatown bus which serves trips between New York and Boston, continued operations unchanged, as did other lines serving Boston, and at least two serving trips from New York to Virginia, South Carolina and Baltimore.

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The Takeaway

Yemeni Government Responds to Reports of Crackdown in Sanaa

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

More than 60 people have reportedly been killed in a crackdown by the Yemeni government against protesters in the capital of Sanaa. Yemen's minister of trade and industry, Hisham Sharaf Abdullah responds to the reports, and claims they have been fabricated.

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Transportation Nation

NYC DOT Wants Cyclists to Take a "Bike Smart Pledge"

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) The New York City Department of Transportation wants cyclists to take the "bike smart pledge" to obey all the rules of the road.

This is the latest effort to ease tensions between cycling enthusiasts and bike lane opponents by getting bike riders to behave better, thus eliminating one of the complaints about the increase in city cyclists recently. The number of bike riders has doubled in NYC since 2006.

This comes amidst an NYPD crackdown on rule breaking riders that has drawn regular attention on this website and in the local press, most recently including a video of a pedestrian getting a ticket for "ridiculing" a cyclist in the process of getting a ticket for riding on the sidewalk, Robin Williams who says he was stopped for the same offense, and a prep-school exec who got a ticket for hanging her handbag on her handlebars.

Here's the pledge.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Egyptian Cell Phone Surveillance & the Crackdown

Thursday, February 03, 2011

"One of the things that a cell phone network allows you to do in particular is to pinpoint the locations of individuals. And one of the things we do know about the Egyptian security state is that they depended on surveillance much more heavily than other countries might… One of the more cynical takes here is that the Egyptian government knew what they were doing. They wanted to shut down communications to take away organizing tools…This turned out not to work…It can’t be a coincidence that they turned the networks on at the exact same moment they began the crackdown that we are now witnessing... For activists that have just been casual users of cell phones, which is basically everybody but a small group of people who took precautions, the government will know their phone numbers, know how to reach them and how to look for them out on the streets...Those activists may be vulnerable.”

 —Andrew McLaughlin, former deputy Chief Technology Officer for the Obama Administration discussing why the Egyptian government shut down the internet and suddenly turned it back on, on today’s Leonard Lopate Show. You can hear the full interview here.

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