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Next Stop for BoltBus: Port Authority

By Jill Colvin | October 3, 2011 11:13am
The Port Authority Bus Terminal will soon become the departure point for some Bolt buses.
The Port Authority Bus Terminal will soon become the departure point for some Bolt buses.
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Getty Images/Mario Tama

MIDTOWN — BoltBus will shift some of its operations to the Port Authority Bus Terminal following months of escalating outrage over sidewalk congestion.

Effective Oct. 13, the low-cost inter-city bus company will be moving up to 20 departures a day to Gate 84 of the Port Authority Bus Terminal, shifting some of the burden off its curbside pickups at West 33rd Street at Seventh Avenue and West 34th Street at Eighth Avenue, according to a company statement.

General Manager David Hall said the move was intended to help ease congestion at the stops, where it’s not unusual to see two to three of the company’s signature black-and-orange buses idling, with scores of passengers and their suitcases crowding the sidewalk as they wait to board.

The situation has been especially bad on West 33rd Street, where the crowds at peak hours often make it nearly impossible for pedestrians to pass, frustrating local building managers and business owners who complain the buses are driving away tenants and customers and compromising pedestrian safety.

"We recognize the need to provide our customers with a premium travel experience, and also support the communities we serve by listening to their concerns," Hall said in a statement.

But loyal Bolt customers had mixed feelings about the move to the bus terminal, which one recent Yelp reviewer described as “literally hell on earth.”

“The positive is you have a spot where you don’t have to worry about the public trying to fight their way through the lines. The negative is you have to go to Port Authority,” said frequent traveler Joe Primmer, 31, who lives in East Harlem and travels twice a month to be with his wife who lives in Washington, D.C.

Gramercy Park’s Erin Lackey, 25, who also travels via Bolt every other weekend to visit her boyfriend in D.C., wasn't a fan of the idea of having to schlep to Port Authority, instead of boarding on 33rd Street.

"It's a little bit dingier," she said of the terminal.

But West Villager Lisa Erickson, 27, who takes the bus several times a year to visit family in D.C., said that while she, too, prefers getting to board the bus on the street, she's happy as long as the bus leaves from a stop close to her office at Rockefeller Center.

“It’s all about what’s convenient,” she said. “I don’t really care either way.”

Bolt had originally attempted to move its West 33rd Street operations to a new stop at Eighth Avenue, between West 24th and West 25th streets in Chelsea, but that plan was thwarted one day before it was set to go into effect by angry residents and business owners, who said they were never consulted about the stop.

The routes affected by the shift to Port Authority are New York to Boston, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore/Greenbelt, M.D.