Why Chinatown Will Continue to Function as a Bus Terminal

Posted on: September 30th, 2014 at 5:24 am by
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Chinatown Bus enforcement is a top priority,” CO Captain Joseph Simonetti of the 7th Precinct acknowledged at this month’s community affairs meeting. His remark was timely given the recent hoopla over the gas-guzzling issue, also a platform priority for the year-old SPaCE block association.

Recall that August 15 was the much-ballyhooed date that the 7th Precinct and Department of Transportation would begin their enforcement of recent regulatory legislation. And the wheels on that proverbial bus are creaky, at best. Enforcement is only now getting underway due to bureaucratic red tape – the new laws required assignment of unique legal codes to the DMV (i.e. violation identifications). That happened a few weeks ago.

Simonetti stresses that his guys (and gals) patrol the bus situation on the regular. They’ve already issued dozens of summonses for permit and parking violations. But only on such infraction, and therefore not enough of a deterrence to curb buses.

Time for another reality check. When it comes to policing and/or regulating the Chinatown bus situation, the calculus is simple. Nobody will really pay attention until or unless fatalities are involved. Shock and awe sells papers (and votes). Nothing new there.

Meanwhile, the Port Authority of New York is apparently well aware of the scattered Chinatown Bus situation, according to a source with knowledge of the matter. Port Authority Planning allegedly has the skinny on the various companies and statistics of operation. Numbers like ye olde 80-20 rule: there are about 100 companies in operation, 20 of which are permitted. Ammo that could be used against the downtown competition.

The Port Authority seemingly has little interest in going to war with Chinatown, though, since ridership is reportedly overbooked by some 40% as it is. There is plenty of overflow for both. On that note, our source elaborates by alleging that the Department of Transportation had previously asked the NYPD to impose a moratorium on issuing tickets to bus operators below 42nd Street. After all, the midtown terminal can’t handle any additional customers. Perhaps this is why it took so long for permit legislation to debut.

One potential ray of hope is through the Port Authority’s purported “No Fly List” for rogue buses, a secret tally maintained to earmark the problem operators. Companies on this list are vulnerable; they may let you leave NYC, but wait for you on the Jersey side of the tunnel.

The real moratorium should be on issuing permits to new companies, which seems unlikely given the DOT hands those out like candy while Community Board 3 looks on.

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