Megabus Too Heavy for City Streets, State Police Say

By Mathew Katz on February 6, 2012 4:10pm 

A Boston-bound Megabus double parked at 33rd St. and Ninth Avenue Friday afternoon.
A Boston-bound Megabus double parked at 33rd St. and Ninth Avenue Friday afternoon.
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DNAinfo/Tara Kyle

HELL'S KITCHEN — Megabus' fleet of double-decker buses that clog west side streets aren't just controversial, they're too heavy to legally drive down city streets, according to a new study.

The study, provided to DNAinfo and compiled from data provided by the New York State Police to Adirondack Transit Lines, found that a fully-loaded Megabus double decker Van Hool TD 925 at full capacity with 81 passengers aboard weighs 39,750 pounds — nearly 4,000 pounds heavier than the state's legal limit of 36,000. The law is intended to ensure road safety and fuel consumption, according to NY State law.

The data is based on a weight test of the bus conducted by the New York State Police.

Community Board 4 cited the study in a series of letters to the Department of Transportation calling on them to enforce the laws and limit Megabus to 55 passengers.

The board's Feb. 3 letter asked the DOT to "ensure that all buses, including those used by Megabus, are weighed and brought into compliance with all federal, state and city motor vehicle laws."

CB4 said the changes will not only bring the buses into compliance, they'll also reduce crowding of passengers lining up for the buses, which has sparked outcry from the neighboring community in Chelsea, Hell's Kitchen, and Midtown.

Megabus did not respond to requests for comment.

Neighbors have ramped up their fight against the bus company, attempting to deny it permanent new loading space amid complaints that the chaotic bus terminal at West 33rd Street and Ninth Avenue is noisy and messy and that passengers and snack carts often block the sidewalk.

Megabus picked two new proposed locations on West 41st Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues and on 10th Avenue between West 40th and 41st Streets as a possible permanent new home after Brookfield Properties ousted them from their home at 33rd Street and Ninth Avenue to begin construction on a large project.

Since the carriers uses double-decker buses, it can't enter the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and has to load from the street.

Community Board 4 and transit groups want the DOT to reject the bid to move to the new spots.

Christine Berthet, co-chair of CB4's Transportation Planning Committee said local wanted Megabus' permanent home to be at 34th and 12th Avenue where it would not conflict with residential properties.

However, Megabus rejected the location, Berthet said.

Megabus and other curbside discount bus operators, like BoltBus, are growing. According to a recent study by Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development, curbside bus pickups went up by 32.1 percent nationwide in 2011.

Now that Megabus has rejected the 12th Avenue location as being too remote, CB4 asked the DOT to eventually order the carrier to return to its original pick-up site near Madison Square Garden. The carrier was kicked out of that spot last year as a result of construction.

Community members have also raged against carriers not paying sufficient fees to park at city curbs, and asked the city to implement a fee system similar to what Megabus pays in Washington, D.C.

"How is it that that this business is getting favors from [New York] city, where in other municipalities they have to cough up six figures in terms of renting space from Union Station," said board member Paul Seres.

"They're getting so much from this for nothing."

CLARIFICATION: DNAinfo originally reported that the study was commissioned by the New York State Police. In fact, it was commissioned by Adirondack Transit Lines, with information provided by the New York State Police. 

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