LOWER EAST SIDE — Three Chinatown bus companies hoping to create new stops on Canal Street got the thumbs down from Community Board 3's transportation committee, setting the stage for a showdown at the full board meeting.
The proposed stops, which would serve Happy Go Travel, Inc., Diaspora Investment Association and Cash World Tours, would station buses along Canal Street and draw passengers destined for stops as far away as Ohio and Florida, according to their applications.
But board members said they couldn't sanction the new locations — citing many locals' concerns over issues ranging from crowded sidewalks to blocked fire hydrants and exhaust-spewing buses.
“We’ve been turned into a de facto bus depot and we have not consented to this and we have not been asked about this,” resident Emma Culbert, a founding member of the Seward Park Around Canal East Block Association, told the CB3 transportation committee last Thursday night.
Culbert, who presented a petition to the board from those opposed to the bus stops, was among the residents, bus operators and others who packed the University Settlement's Houston Street Center, where the heated debate lasted for more than three hours.
Among the stops proposed to the board was one for Happy Go Travel at 59 Canal St., which currently hosts two other bus stops. The Department of Transportation offered to extend the stop to accommodate Happy Go Travel, officials said.
However, CB3 officials said a fire hydrant sits on the curb, making them concerned about extending it even further to include more buses.
“There is no way to put 90 feet from the curb and not obstruct the fire hydrant,” said David Crane, chair of CB3's transportation committee.
The committee also cited the disruption of business, negative environmental impacts and the safety concerns for pedestrians, especially nearby students and seniors, as reasons for its decision.
Board members also expressed concerns about Cash World Tours’ proposed stop at 50 Canal St., which is located across from the existing stop at 59 Canal St. Board members said adding another stop to the opposite side of Canal Street at that intersection, which is already “a small local street” with single lanes in each direction, could exacerbate existing traffic problems.
Diaspora’s proposed bus stop at 139 Canal St. also raised safety and traffic flow concerns, since the spot was located by the off-ramp of the Manhattan Bridge. In addition, the address is designated as a “No Standing” zone, which was cause for the DOT to shoot down a nearby site as a proposed bus stop in December 2013, a representative from Councilwoman Margaret Chin’s office said at the meeting..
Residents opposed to the stops complained about the “oversaturation” of intercity buses in their area, presenting a map to CB3's transportation committee showing the number of bus stops in the neighborhood.
The applications will go up for review at Community Board 3’s full board meeting on May 27 at PS 20, 166 Essex St. After that, it will be up to the DOT to make the final decision on the new bus stops.