MIDTOWN — After more than a year of complaints and threats of lawsuits, BoltBus will bolt from its West 33rd Street stop later this week.
The company, which provides low-cost trips to cities like Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., announced it will be moving from the congested corner of West 33rd Street and Seventh Avenue to a new stop along a more residential stretch in Chelsea.
"BoltBus is excited to announce that effective Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011, we will be relocating our Washington, DC and Baltimore/Greenbelt, MD Service in New York to the northest corner of 24th Street and Eighth Avenue in New York’s historic Chelsea neighborhood," the company’s website reads.
Company spokesman Timothy Stokes said the goal was to find a new site that would be convenient to passengers, while minimizing congestion for local businesses.
It wasn't unusual to see two to three orange-and-black BoltBus vehicles lined up on West 33rd Street with dozens of passengers and their suitcases crowding the sidewalk, blocking business and subway entrances, and making it nearly impossible for pedestrians to pass.
It was a situation Daniel Biederman, president of the 34th Street Partnership, said was “killing our neighborhood" and something the commanding officer of the Midtown South Precinct deemed "disastrous."
Stokes acknowledged the overcrowding in a statement saying, "We have been working on a solution for quite some time, and believe this new location will assist in reducing some of that congestion."
The last buses are set to depart from the corner at 8:30 p.m. on Wed., Aug. 24.
“That’s good news!” said Elizabeth Nelis, a manager at the upscale Stout Irish pub, where staff and owners had expressed serious concerns about the safety of pedestrians, who were often forced to walk in the street because of the traffic on the sidewalk.
Businesses along the stretch had also complained that the wall of buses obstructed their storefronts and that crowds blocked their doors and tried to use lobbies and eateries as private waiting and restrooms.
Residents and business owners near the new stop — in front of a Rite-Aid on the northeast corner of West 24th Street and Eighth Avenue — were less than enthusiastic to hear the news.
The block is a quiet stretch bordered by the Penn South residential co-op, with a local coffee shop, nail salon and dry cleaner. Many store managers said they hadn’t heard about the plan.
“You’re kidding,” said Ted Vasquez, 49, a longtime Chelsea resident who lives three blocks from the new stop, while drinking his morning coffee at the Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company on the block.
Vasquez said the bus stop would undoubtedly add noise and congestion to a mostly residential neighborhood that he said was busy enough.
“I can’t imagine that there’s not going to be an uproar,” he said, suggesting 10th Avenue as a better alternative. “It’s going to be really intrusive here.”
Anny Park, manager of the Spa Bloomie nail salon, was also shocked to hear about the plan just two days prior to its implementation.
“It’s not good for us,” she said, expressing concern that the waiting crowds will interfere with her customers and hurt business.
The Department of Transportation, which manages inter-city bus stops, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for Biederman referred comments to the DOT.
BoltBus' Boston and Philadelphia service will not be impacted by the move, and will continue to operate from a separate stop at West 34th Street and Eighth Avenue.