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DOT Wants Public to Back Megabus Over Controversial Stop

By Mathew Katz | May 16, 2012 8:19am
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

HELL'S KITCHEN — The Department of Transportation plans to seek public support for Megabus' controversial pick-up spot at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on Wednesday.

At Community Board 4's Transportation Planning Committee the city agency will ask for the board's support in giving long-term approval to the stop on West 41st Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues.

The 6:30 p.m. meeting is expected to be contentious and well-attended: CB4 moved it to the Fulton Auditorium at 119 Ninth Ave., a venue with significantly more seating than normal. Representatives from Megabus, the Port Authority, City Hall and Megabus' competitors also are expected to attend.

The discount carrier has operated for free under the Port Authority Bus Terminal's overhang since February, which the PA has said gives Megabus an unfair competitive advantage with buses that pay rent to use the terminal.

Passengers boarded the Megabus July 13, 2011.
Passengers boarded the Megabus July 13, 2011.
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DNAinfo/Meredith Hoffman

Last week, DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said the department would extend Megabus' permit after it expired, despite opposition from residents, competitors and the Port Authority itself.

Earlier this month, the Port Authority asked the DOT to revoke the carrier's permit, citing numerous safety concerns, including long lineups of passengers blocking the terminal’s lower-level bus exit onto West 41st Street.

The spot also has drawn ire from a collection of Megabus' competitors, including Greyhound, Peter Pan Bus Lines and Adirondack Transit Lines, who argue that they pay millions of dollars to operate out of the city's bus terminal. The group sued the DOT in February, but a judge threw out the case in April.

The board previously had voted to recommend that the DOT put Megabus on the far western blocks of West 30th Street in January.

When it became clear that the DOT planned to allow the carrier to operate out of the Port Authority, the board asked the department to ensure it eventually would relocate back to its original site next to Madison Square Garden, that the carrier agree to host a job fair in the area, and that all the company's double-decker buses abide by federal weight limits.

Committee co-chair Christine Berthet said that the board likely will factor those conditions into their decision at Wednesday's meeting.

The community board's recommendation is purely advisory, though the DOT previously has said it would listen to the board's feedback regarding the site.

Megabus can load up to 81 passengers on its signature vehicles, allowing the carrier to sell tickets at rock-bottom prices.