HELL'S KITCHEN — A long-derided hub for discount carrier Megabus at 33rd Street and Ninth Avenue will be on the move by early next year in order to make way for a massive construction project, according to Department of Transportation officials.
Megabus is being forced to move in order to make way for the development of a 5.4 million square foot property that runs from Ninth to Dyer avenues between West 31st and West 33rd streets. Developer Brookfield Office Properties expects to start the project early next year.
"Megabus will have to relocate soon," said Margaret Forgione, the DOT's Manhattan Borough Commissioner at a meeting of Community Board 4's Transportation Planning Committee Wednesday night. "The community will be consulted about it."
For months, residents have complained that Megabus loading zone is noisy and messy and that passengers and snack carts often block the sidewalk.
Since the complaints began, Megabus has moved passengers off the sidewalk and into a walled-off area in a parking lot that's the future site of the Brookfield building. In theory, passengers only line up on the sidewalk when getting onto a bus, but nearby residents said not much has changed.
"It remains a zoo," said Craig Burke, 40, who lives across from the stop. "It's almost impossible to get up and down the sidewalk."
At the Community Board 4 Transportation Planning meeting, committee members drafted a letter to the DOT and Megabus telling the company to get out by Jan. 1.
“We want them out," said committee co-chair Christine Berthet. "And we want a lot of enforcement between now and then."
Megabus said the move is scheduled to take place on Jan. 1, 2011.
Locals have complained that city officials have allowed illegal snack vendors to camp outside the spot. And despite Megabus' commitment to never having more than two buses on the block at a time, there are sometimes four or five buses there at once, residents say.
"We get to hear them shout last call for every single bus," said Patrick Aitcheson, 46, who also lives across from the hub. "I can't even walk my dogs past the crowds most of the time."
Scott Jacobson, 20, a Columbia University student who was waiting for a bus on Thursday and regularly takes Megabus to visit his girlfriend in Pittsburgh, said he could see how having hundreds of passengers milling about could disrupt nearby residents.
"To be honest, I had no idea anyone lived around here," he said.
No representatives from Megabus were present at Wednesday night's meeting, or any others, according to Berthet.
"We called them 50 times," she said. "They have not showed up."
"I'm surprised that they would say that," said George Lence, a representative for the company. "We've always been at any of the meetings they requested.
Megabus is currently looking for a new location around, or possibly in, the Port Authority Bus Terminal for a potential new stop. It's unclear whether it will be able to return to its current location when construction is completed.
"Obviously, it's a bus terminal area, so that's a perfect place," said Lence. "But we're going to be very sensitive to the needs of the community boards and neighborhoods."
Committee members asked to be consulted about the move. Last month, the DOT nearly moved a BoltBus stop from Midtown to Eighth Avenue between 24th and 25th Streets, without telling most residents and business owners on the block. The department cancelled the move at the last minute after outrage from the community and local elected officials.
Aitcheson, who has been fighting against the Megabus hub for months, said he's relieved it's finally moving, but thinks it would stuck around if the upcoming construction wasn't happening.
"Everyone's just sort of ducked the issue for a long time," he said.
"Now the solution is construction. So be it, I guess."