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State Legislation to Regulate Chinatown Buses Passes the Assembly

By Serena Solomon | June 15, 2012 10:30am
Passengers board a bus bound for Boston in Chinatown back in March.
Passengers board a bus bound for Boston in Chinatown back in March.
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DNAinfo/Patrick Hedlund

CHINATOWN — Following a federal shutdown of numerous bus lines that service Chinatown last month, legislation has passed in the Assembly that will further regulate intercity bus travel.

The legislation, which already passed the state Senate on Tuesday, will allow New York City to designate drop-off and pick-up locations as well as establish a permit system to better identify bus companies.

Intercity bus travel on low-budget lines has come under fire in recent months after two accidents involving low-cost bus lines left 17 dead last year.

At the end of May, after a yearlong investigation, the U.S. Department of Transportation shutdown 26 bus lines run by three primary companies that have curbside stops in Chinatown citing unsafe practices.

"This permitting system will help alleviate some of that congestion and bring greater accountability to the intercity bus industry," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, in a statement after the legislation passed.  He blamed the convenient and inexpensive transport that ferries passengers to East Coast for causing traffic chaos in the city.

The legislation will authorize New York City and others in the state to establish an intercity bus permit system that requires tougher identification rules for bus companies, according to a statement from Silver's office.

It would also designate the location of the curbside stations where passengers pile on and off buses. These would be determined with the help of public feedback.

Other politicians such as City Councilwoman Margaret Chin and State Senator Daniel Squadron commended the legislation.

"Passage of intercity bus permit legislation in both houses of the legislature is a big step toward protecting communities and passengers alike as the low-cost bus industry continues to grow," Squadron said in a statement.

On May 31, the federal DOT shutdown Apex Bus, Inc., I-95 Coach, Inc. and New Century Travel, Inc., which operated 26 bus lines, all with routes through Chinatown. About 1,800 passengers used those services daily.

It was the first time individual owners — not just their companies — were slapped with a cease-and-desist order to prevent operators from resurfacing under another name with the same dangerous practices.