|Albany Reaches Deal on Long-Awaited New Chinatown Bus Rules (259224)|
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Albany Reaches Deal on Long-Awaited New Chinatown Bus Rules
Posted by Gold_12TH on Mon Apr 23 13:31:32 2012State lawmakers are set to announce a new deal Monday on legislation that would create the city's first-ever permit system for intercity buses.
Under the deal, which has been more than a year in the making, the city's Department of Transportation would be granted the power to create a new bus permit system that would allow it to set regulations, including designated pick up and drop-off locations for the dozens of low-cost bus carriers that operate throughout the city, sources said.
While some companies, like Bolt Bus and Megabus, have established regular stops with the DOT, others haven't, creating what some have described as a free-for-all in neighborhoods such as Chinatown and Midtown, with under-regulated buses stopping anywhere they like.
As part of the plan, to be announced by state Sen. Daniel Squadron, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and city Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, the DOT would be required to consult with local community boards and create a 45-day public comment period prior to assigning pickup or drop-off spots.
The deal would also grant the city the power to force bus companies to provide information about the kinds of buses they use, the number of passengers they carry and where they park buses when not in use.
Companies that violate the rules could face fines, or potentially lose their operating permits.
The deal comes more than a year after an earlier version of the bill passed the Assembly following a series of deadly crashes, including two involving buses originating from Chinatown that crashed within days of each other, killing 17 people and injuring dozens more.
"This legislation will bring order to an often chaotic situation Downtown by allowing for regulations that will improve the quality of life for our community and make our streets and sidewalks safer," Silver said at the time.
Intercity buses have become increasingly popular in recent years, with budget travelers using the services to jump between New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
But in addition to raising safety concerns, the buses have become an increasing source of frustration, with many business owners and residents complaining their blocks are inundated by dozens of buses an hour, that idle noisily, block storefronts and clog sidewalks with hundreds of waiting passengers.
A spokesman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.