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New Chinatown Bus Stop is Hurting Business, Shop Owners Say

By Lisha Arino | July 17, 2015 4:28pm | Updated on July 19, 2015 9:54pm
 Customers have been avoiding two longtime businesses because of a lack of parking, employees said.   
Chinatown Buses Hurting Business, Local Shops Say
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LOWER EAST SIDE — Two longtime shops are asking the city to reconsider a Chinatown bus stop installed earlier this year, saying that business has declined since the coaches started picking up and dropping off passengers near their doorsteps.

Customers have driven into the neighborhood to pick up goods from Great Wall Seafood Wholesale, located at 24 Allen St., and M.S. Wall & Floor Covering, Inc. next door for more than a decade, employees said.

But the removal of four metered parking spaces to accommodate the new bus stop at 28 Allen St., coupled with aggressive ticketing, has encouraged even some of their longtime customers to shop elsewhere, they said.

“Before, there was a meter,” said Linda Cheng, a manager at the seafood wholesaler, which has seen a 20 percent drop in business. “Now they can’t even stop [for] a minute.”

Customers can get hit with $115 tickets if they pull up in front of the stores, making the locations less appealing than other businesses offering similar products across the city, according to Cheng and Mark Chen, who has owned the carpeting and flooring shop next door for 15 years.

“If… one time you get a ticket, next time you want to come? Hundred percent no,” he said. Business has gone down about 15 percent, he said.

The Department of Transportation designated the bus stop in February with Community Board 3’s approval, relocating it from 18 Allen St., according to a spokesman.

The previous stop was inadvertently located in front of a musician’s bedroom window, forcing her to sleep with three white noise machines, she told DNAinfo New York.

Four metered parking spots where drivers could park for up to an hour were removed at the new stop, while four other spaces were restored at 18 Allen St., a DOT spokesman said.

Chen and Cheng said they were never notified about the move and only found out about the stop when a sign was installed.

“You got to let me know,” Chen said. “Why you move here and [let] nobody know?”

The bus stop, which is used for 34 to 41 trips daily, has also caused other issues, Chen and Cheng noted. Passengers clog the sidewalks waiting for the coaches to arrive and leave their trash in front of the stores, they explained. The buses often idle — sometimes for up to 20 minutes at a time — creating noise and an unpleasant scent, Chen and Cheng added.

Both businesses have called 311 and issued complaints on its website, Chen and Cheng said, but the issues have remained unresolved. They have also reached out to the owners of the bus companies using the stop — Eastern Coach, Inc., No. 1 Bus Tour Inc. and UTWT Bus Lines Inc. — but they have been unhelpful, they said.

However, two bus owners who spoke with DNAinfo denied those claims. They tell their drivers to turn off their engines once they arrive at the stop and encourage passengers to wait for their buses inside storefronts, said both David Wang, who owns Eastern Coach Inc., and Jonathan Pan, who recently acquired No. 1 Bus Tour Inc.

UTWT Bus Lines Inc. could not be reached for comment.

A DOT spokesman said the issue was on the city’s radar.

“DOT is working with Community Board 3 and elected officials to address the loading/unloading operations of the businesses on Allen Street. We are willing to consider other locations for the bus stop and also designate nearby truck loading to assist the businesses,” the spokesman said in a statement.

The DOT referred all ticketing questions to the NYPD, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Chen and Cheng said said they were not sure how much longer they could stay in business.

“It’s [getting] worse and worse right now,” Cheng said.

Both businesses plan to discuss the issue with the community board at a meeting next week, she said.