Lawmakers announced Friday a new bill that would create a permit system for intercity buses that pick up and drop off passengers in Chinatown and other parts of the city.
There is currently no regulation system and elected officials cited this as the reason for numerous problems in the community including congestion, pollution and inefficiency on the part of bus companies.
“In the last decade there has been an explosion of low-cost so-called Chinatown buses,” Senator Daniel Squadron said. “[The system has] been completely unregulated and that’s been an enormous problem for the community and for the bus companies themselves. With hundreds of pickups and drop-offs, it’s as if you have one of the largest bus depots in the county outdoors on the streets of Chinatown.”
The proposed permit system would include assigning pick-up and drop-off locations, and would provide for community board and MTA input.
“We are giving our residents a greater say over what’s happening in our streets,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said. “The permit applications will be public. The public will have the opportunity to comment on these applications.”
Squadron said that riders should expect to see more efficient bus operations, more schedule dependability and there is a possibility that costs may also come down. While the system will help to regulate bus companies’ actions, Silver said it will help identify the amount of bus companies presently operating in New York City as the actual number is unknown.
“That’s the whole purpose,” Silver said. “Anybody who’s in that business will have to identify themselves and come in and conform to the rules and regulations that the legislation sets out.”
The safety of those taking the buses is also a high concern. President of United Fujianese American Associated Jimmy Cheng said that he is afraid of people being injured when running to catch a bus that has begun to pull away.
“Right now the streets of Chinatown are like the Wild West,” Squadron said. “Buses can stop anywhere, double-park, idle, sidewalks will overflow at certain times and other times you won’t be able to know where to go to pick up one of these buses.”
Council Member Margaret Chin said in a statement, “This will protect passengers of intercity bus companies and ensure that better business practices are maintained.”
Silver said it is too premature to tell how long this bill will take to pass the legislation, but he hopes it will go through soon.