Your petitions and advocacy with Elected officials is paying off: thank you to Senator Tom Duane for his leadership on putting back on track this legislation that had been stalled for some months.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, State Senator Daniel Squadron, Council Member Margaret Chin and Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan today announced an agreement with the city on state legislation to create the first-ever permit system for intercity buses, giving the city the power to regulate the industry and designate pick-up and drop-off locations. They expect the bills to be signed into law by the summer.
Intercity buses have caused serious problems on the streets of Manhattan and elsewhere by idling, causing congestion and pollution, and interfering with pedestrians and businesses.
These low-cost intercity buses have also been involved in a number of serious accidents in recent years, some of them fatal. The agreement on the 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.
The permit system would provide the city and the public with key information about bus companies, creating additional much-needed oversight.
The Silver-Squadron legislation would authorize the city to establish a permit system and designate pick-up and drop-off locations. The legislation requires the city to consult with local community boards and allow for a 45-day comment period, prior to issuing permits for pick-up and drop-off locations. The city would also be able to require bus companies to provide information about the buses they are using, the number of passengers they are carrying and where they would be parked when not in use. Violators would face fines of up to $2,500 and the loss of their permit.
The legislation would:
- require that bus permit applications include identification of the intercity bus company, identification of the specific buses to be used,
- identification of the bus stop location(s) being requested, the total number of buses and passengers expected to use each location, bus schedules, and identification of the places where buses would park when not in use;
- require the city, prior to assigning an intercity bus stop, to consult with local community boards and the MTA (if an intercity bus stop would overlap with an MTA bus stop), and to consider traffic, safety, and applicant preferences;
- require that applicants, the local community board and the MTA (if applicable) receive notification prior to an intercity bus stop being relocated;
- require the city, prior to issuing a permit or permanently amending a permit, to consult with the local community board, including a 45-day notice and comment period;
- authorize intercity bus stops to be temporarily changed for up to 90 days, with written notice to the local community board;
- establish that permits would be for terms of up to three years, authorize permit fees (up to $275 per vehicle annually), and require intercity buses to display permits;
- provide for public involvement through the city’s rulemaking process (including public hearings), and through on-line posting of approved applications and all intercity bus stops; and
- provide for penalties for intercity buses that load or unload passengers on city streets either without a permit or in violation of permit requirements or restrictions (a fine of up to $1,000 for a first violation, up to $2,500 for repeat violations, and suspending or revoking a permit).
“City permits for intercity buses are a big step toward protecting communities and passengers alike. As the low-cost bus industry continues to grow, this legislation will help end Chinatown’s wild west atmosphere while allowing the city to identify problems before they become tragedies,” said Squadron. “By creating the first-ever bus permit system we will allow the city to work with communities to designate pick-up and drop-off stops. And by providing the city and the public with critical information about bus companies, we will add much-needed oversight to the industry. I was pleased to work with Speaker Silver to bring together the parties to reach agreement on this new and complex issue; thank you to the city, Councilmember Chin and all of our colleagues in government. I look forward to getting this passed in Albany and continuing to work with our partners on the federal and local levels to improve safety and quality of life.”