New Chinatown Bus Rules Signed Into Law

By Elizabeth Hagen and Julie Shapiro  on August 17, 2012 9:19pm

Chinatown passengers board a bus bound for Boston. Intercity buses face new regulations under a law signed Aug. 17, 2012.
Chinatown passengers board a bus bound for Boston. Intercity buses face new regulations under a law signed Aug. 17, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Patrick Hedlund

NEW YORK — Chinatown buses will soon face new regulations, thanks to a law Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed Friday in response to back-to-back bus crashes that left 17 people dead last year.

Under the law, all intercity bus companies, including those based in Chinatown, will have to apply for permits and will only be allowed to park in bus stops that are designated with community input, officials said.

For the first time, the bus companies will also have to disclose information about their fleet, including schedules, where the buses park during layovers, the number and type of buses and the number of passengers each bus can carry.

Any buses that violate the new regulations will face fines of up to $2,500.

"This new law will help bring much needed oversight to the intercity bus industry and will help improve the quality of life for my Chinatown constituents, as well as residents across the city who face the dangers and inconvenience of buses idling and blocking intersections," Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who co-sponsored the bill with State Sen. Daniel Squadron, said in a statement.

"This permit system will help make the intercity bus experience more reliable and safer for passengers," Silver continued, "and it will help responsible bus operators by establishing clear rules and improving communications with the surrounding community."

Low-cost, intercity buses companies, many operating out of Chinatown, have been involved in a spate of accidents in the past 18 months, including a March 2011 crash that left 15 people dead when a Chinatown-bound bus flipped over in The Bronx.

Two months later, the federal government shut down 26 bus lines running through Chinatown.

The new law will help the city keep a closer eye on the buses, and it will also allow local community boards to have a say in bus stop locations, officials said.

An estimated 6 million people ride low-fare, intercity buses up and down the East Coast each year.

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