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City Allows Megabus to Keep Port Authority Spot

By Jill Colvin | May 7, 2012 4:35pm
Passengers load onto a bus at the new Megabus hub at Port Authority Bus Terminal on Feb 16, 2012.
Passengers load onto a bus at the new Megabus hub at Port Authority Bus Terminal on Feb 16, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Mathew Katz

MIDTOWN — The city has extended its free invitation to Megabus to load and unload outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal, despite mounting opposition.

The low-cost carrier will be allowed to maintain its outdoor hub on West 41st Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues — in the shadow of the terminal — for now, city Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said.

“We’re going to leave the permit in place,” she said at an unrelated press conference at City Hall Monday.

Megabus's current permit, which was only temporary, had been set to expire Monday.

The company's use of the stop since February has enraged competitors, including Greyhound, Peter Pan Bus Lines and Adirondack Transit Lines, who say they pay millions every year to operate out of the Midtown depot, while Megabus gets a free ride outside.

The group sued the DOT in February over the stop, but a judge threw out the case late last month.

The Port Authority also wants the discount carrier out, and sent a letter to the DOT Friday asking them to revoke the permit, citing numerous safety concerns, including long lineups of passengers blocking the terminal’s lower-level bus exit onto West 41st Street.

“Running a major long-haul bus operation on a city street outside one of the world’s busiest bus facilities is unsafe, risky and simply not smart,” Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye said in a statement at the time.

But Sadik-Khan said the current location outside of Port Authority is the best available option as the city continues to negotiate a permanent fix with the local community board.

“Right now we’ve got a very dangerous situation with MegaBus in front of Penn Station, one of the busiest parts of the city,” she said, adding that, “Our streets are congested territory. It’s like the Wild West out there."

She also pressed for the passage of new state legislation that would allow the city to better regulate buses by issuing permits to all carriers and fining those who break the rules.

“We need to get this issue resolved,” she said, stressing that the Megabus spot remains “temporary," despite the extension.

Carolyn Daly, a spokeswoman for the Port Authority-based carriers, said that the companies understand the decision to keep the stop in place until Community Board 4 can weigh in on a fix.

"We know that the city will do the right thing ultimately here," she said.

Megabus praised the decision.

"Megabus is pleased that the City has extended the successful pilot program through the end of May to accommodate the scheduling needs of Community Board 4," spokesman George Lence said in a statement.

"We have operated without incident and fully within the terms of our agreement with the community board and the city at the site and expect to continue operating there on a long-term basis for the convenience of our passengers," he said.