Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver today announced passage of legislation that would create a permitting system for intercity buses in New York City, giving the city new authority to regulate the industry and designate pick-up and drop-off locations.
Intercity buses have created problems on many city streets by causing congestion, blocking access to intersections and sidewalks, forcing people to walk in the street, and creating dangerous conditions by double- and triple-parking. By designating pick-up and drop-off locations, the city will be able to bring some order to the situation and will give local communities the chance to have input on where bus stops will be established.
"While providing a convenient, inexpensive alternative for intercity travel, these buses have often caused chaos on our city streets by blocking intersections, endangering pedestrians, and idling, which causes pollution," said Silver. "This permitting system will help alleviate some of that congestion and bring greater accountability to the intercity bus industry."
The measure (A.4578-A/Silver) amends the vehicle and traffic law to authorize New York City to establish an intercity bus permit system. The new system would designate streets and locations on those streets for passenger loading and unloading. It would also allow for community and public feedback before selecting bus stop locations, and would provide continuous information to the public through the online posting of approved bus applications and intercity bus stops.
It would also require that permit applications include identification of the intercity bus company and identification of the specific buses being used. Low-cost intercity buses have been involved in a number of accidents and several companies were recently shut down by the federal government over safety violations. This bill is part of a federal, state and local effort to bring stricter oversight to the industry, which has expanded rapidly over the past 15 years.
Senator Daniel Squadron said, "Passage of intercity bus permit legislation in both houses of the legislature is a big step toward protecting communities and passengers alike as the low-cost bus industry continues to grow. City permits for intercity buses will help end Chinatown's wild west atmosphere while allowing the city and state to identify problems before they become tragedies. Thank you to Speaker Silver and the Assembly, as well as Senators Duane and Golden, Councilmember Chin, and the City for working to move forward this new and complex issue. I hope the Governor will quickly sign this bill."
"I am delighted that Albany has acted to pass this important legislation to improve the operation and safety of intercity tour buses," said Council Member Margaret Chin. "This is not an easy issue to regulate, and I thank Speaker Silver and Senator Squadron for their commitment to seeing this legislation through. This is an important win for my district, lower Manhattan, and for all New Yorkers. There are many bus companies that operate in ways that seriously compromise the safety of their passengers. The danger this poses is very real. This legislation will require bus companies to adhere to better practices if they want to operate in New York City, while improving quality of life issues in our community."
Penalties for intercity buses that load or unload passengers on City streets either without a permit or in violation of permit requirements or restrictions would consist of a fine of up to $1,000 for a first violation, up to $2,500 for repeat violations, and permit suspension or revocation.