Overweight Megabus Turned Back by Port Authority Police

By Mathew Katz on March 23, 2012 9:00am 

HELL'S KITCHEN — The Port Authority is hitting the brakes on Megabus.

The discount bus carrier twice ran afoul of Port Authority Police last week: once for having an overweight bus, and a second time when cops arrested an alleged unlicensed driver operating on behalf of Megabus.

In the wake of multiple reports that the company's double-decker buses are too heavy for city streets, a Port Authority officer found one Washington-bound bus to be in violation of weight laws on March 12, according to records.

Megabus can load up to 81 passengers on its signature vehicles, allowing the carrier to sell tickets at rock-bottom prices — but each passenger and his or her baggage adds excess weight to the already-hefty two-level buses.

According to a PAPD violation report, the overweight bus was weighed at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel and came in at 4,900 pounds over the legal limit.

A spokesman for Megabus said the violation did not result in a fine or an appearance in court.

After stopping the bus, authorities forced it to return to Megabus' loading area on West 41st Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues to unload passengers.

Then, the following day, Port Authority cops arrested a driver operating on behalf of Megabus, after he was found to have a suspended license and two outstanding warrants during a routine inspection in Midtown, police said.

The driver, who authorities identified as 37-year-old Yacouba Dalbonet, was charged with aggravated unlicensed operator and summoned to appear in court.

Al Della Fave, a spokesman for the Port Authority Police Department, said the driver was busted during one of 10 regular commercial inspections near the Port Authority Bus Terminal on the afternoon of March 13.

The double-decker bus was owned by Star Express, which Della Fave said was operating on behalf of Megabus.

"The driver had a traffic warrant and an outstanding criminal warrant," Della Fave said.

The officer arrested the man, and another driver who was on the bus took over for him, he added.

A spokesman for Megabus said the company had no knowledge of the arrest and denied that the bus was theirs.

"We have looked into this and to the best of our knowledge the individual named is not our employee nor does he work for any company doing business with us," the spokesman said.

Police and the Manhattan District Attorney could not immediately provide the details of Dalbonet's outstanding warrants. The city's Department of Correction said Dalbonet did not appear in its system.

Megabus recently came under fire from competitors after it began operating its curbside service on West 41st Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, in the shadow of the bus terminal.

Competitors at the Port Authority have sued the company, claiming that the free space near the terminal is unfair to those who pay millions to operate out of it. A judge in the case has allowed Megabus to continue operating the stop until at least April.

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