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New Permit Could Tame Lawless Chinatown Buses

By Adam Nichols | February 4, 2011 3:14pm
Budget-conscious travelers line up to board a Fung Wah bus, which could soon need a permit to operate.
Budget-conscious travelers line up to board a Fung Wah bus, which could soon need a permit to operate.
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By Adam Nichols

DNAinfo News Editor

CHINATOWN — Efforts to tame a lawless bus industry that has left Chinatown like the "Wild West" have been introduced by neighborhood politicians.

The move, which would force buses traveling between New York and other cities to have a permit to operate, has teamed up State Sen. Daniel Squadron, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Council Member Margaret Chin.

They introduced a bill before the State Legislature Friday, designed to create a permit system for the first time ever and ease what they called a "chaotic lack of rules" which puts travelers and neighborhood residents at risk.

"With no rules to regulate buses, the streets of Chinatown are like the Wild West, and that doesn't work for bus companies or the community," said Squadron.

"Today's system makes it hard to operate a business within the bounds of the law, and plagues the community with noise, pollution and chronic congestion."

The intercity bus system has grown massively in the past few years, with budget travelers increasingly using the cheap services between cities such as Boston, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.

But operators don't have designated pick-up or drop-off spots, have been blamed for greatly increasing congestion and have been accused of causing accidents.

The proposed permit system would mean buses had to use designated pick-up and drop-off spots, among other measures. Permit applications would be reviewed by community boards.

The politicians' move was welcomed by some bus operators.

Pei Lin Liang, president of the Fung Wah bus company, said, "For years, the bus parking situation in Chinatown has been chaotic.

"The lack of regulation has caused problems for the community and for the bus companies.

"Our company...was the first long-distance bus company to operate out of Chinatown. For 13 years, we have been waiting for a system that will allow us to conduct our business more easily and in harmony with the local community."