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City Council Calls for Stricter Regulations on Intercity Buses

By Mathew Katz | March 11, 2013 5:40pm

NEW YORK CITY — In the wake of the federal government shutdown of Fung Wah Bus, the City Council called for greater regulation of intercity buses, urging the city's Department of Transportation to set up a permit system for the industry.

Currently, low-cost bus companies like Megabus, BoltBus and the now-defunct Fung Wah can pick up and drop off passengers on city streets without paying the city any fees.

In August, the State Legislature passed a law allowing the city to monitor and regulate the bus industry, but the DOT has not taken the initiative to create new rules, the council's letter to DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said.

"Unfortunately, to date, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has not promulgated these important rules relating to the creation of this permit system," said the letter, signed by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Transportation Committee Chairman James Vacca and Councilwoman Margaret Chin.

"We therefore call on DOT to immediately promulgate the necessary rules so that the City can more effectively monitor the safety of the intercity bus industry."

The state law also allows the DOT to designate specific pickup and drop-off spots for the bus companies.

Seth Solomonow, a spokesman for the DOT, said that the department is already working on setting up a permitting system for the bus companies.

"The system is now being thoroughly reviewed on its way into the city’s rulemaking process as early as next week, and taking effect in about 90 days," he said.

Federal regulators have increasingly been cracking down on intercity buses after a string of accidents, including a March 2011 crash that left 15 people dead.

The lack of any formal permitting system also came into the spotlight last year, when the DOT allowed Megabus to operate on a street outside of Port Authority, the city's main bus depot, for free, drawing fire from the company's competitors, which pay millions to operate out of the bus terminal.