Bus companies can pick up busloads of riders off any sidewalk they choose in New York City -- but not for long, if some politicians and residents have their way.
City and state politicians proposed legislation today that would regulate where curbside buses can pick up passengers.
Bus lines that advertise themselves as low-cost options to cities like Boston and Philadelphia keep costs down by picking up and dropping off passengers on the street, where curb space is free.
But residents in neighborhoods like Chinatown and Chelsea say the buses – and waiting passengers – clog their neighborhoods in what State Sen. Daniel Squadron called a "Wild West atmosphere."
"You have buses idling two, three deep," he told Metro. "People's homes and businesses are being blocked by buses, commercial areas, residential areas. The volume of these buses has had a crushing effect on these communities."
Under new legislation, companies would apply for permits – which would cost up to $275 per vehicle.
Then, the city would be required to provide a 45-day comment period, including asking local community boards for input, before they approve a permit.
Companies violating the rules would face up to $2,500 in fines.
The legislation would also require bus companies to detail
what kinds of buses they use, how many passengers they will ferry and where they will
park vehicles when not in service.
Bus carriers in the Port Authority criticized the suggested legislation. Carolyn Daly, spokeswoman for the Coalition of Port Authority Carriers, argued that it will push more buses to the curb, which at $275 per vehicle would be much cheaper than the average $2 million annual fee she says companies pay to use the Port Authority.