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Proposed BoltBus Stops Near FIT Would Be a 'Disaster,' Foes Say

By Maya Rajamani | August 19, 2016 5:56pm | Updated on August 22, 2016 8:48am
 A BoltBus parked on West 33rd Street and Seventh Avenue.
A BoltBus parked on West 33rd Street and Seventh Avenue.
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Flickr/Frank Gruber

CHELSEA — Popular interstate bus company BoltBus wants to start picking up and dropping off passengers near the Fashion Institute of Technology — a move that would wreak havoc in an area that is already plagued by congestion and similar coaches, the school and neighbors said.

BoltBus hopes to establish a pickup location at the southeast corner of West 28th Street and Eighth Avenue while using the existing drop-off location for another coach company, Megabus, on the west side of Seventh Avenue between West 26th and West 27th streets, a BoltBus spokeswoman said Friday.

That area, however, is already overrun by Megabus passengers, who often plunk their duffel bags in the middle of the sidewalk and leave trash lying around on the ground and benches, West 26th Street resident Beverly Silberstang said.

“The last thing we need is more buses on Seventh Avenue. It is so congested,” she said. “And to add another bus company would be a disaster."

FIT — which sees thousands of students and employees commuting to and from the school each day, according to the school — is also opposed to BoltBus’ plan.

Megabus already drops off thousands of people each week at its stop at West 27th Street and Seventh avenue, noted Lisa Wagner, FIT’s director of government and community relations.

The new BoltBus stops would likely mean thousands of passengers arriving at and departing from the streets around the campus each week, she said.

“It’s a quality-of-life issue for the campus,” Wagner explained. “It will [have] a great impact here, where there’s already a Megabus stop.”

Commuters lining up at the pickup location on Eighth Avenue could obstruct two loading docks, fire standpipes and a fire hydrant on that block, she said.

A few years ago, the city’s Department of Transportation put on hold a plan to move a BoltBus stop from the corner of West 33rd Street and Seventh Avenue to Eighth Avenue between West 24th and West 25th streets after Chelsea residents fiercely opposed the plan.

A DOT spokeswoman on Friday said the agency hasn't yet fielded any complaints about the proposed BoltBus stop on Eighth Avenue.

The stops would be “much more convenient locations for customers than [its] current stops, which are becoming congested due to ongoing traffic,” a BoltBus spokeswoman said.

“When considering where to establish new stops, we look for locations that benefit everyone — the customers, the company as well as the community,” she added.

The Eighth Avenue pickup location wouldn’t significantly increase foot traffic, as it would have
“a limited number of schedules operating daily,” she added, without specifying a number.

Nevertheless, FIT and other neighbors plan to testify against BoltBus’ plans when the company presents its proposal at Community Board 5’s transportation and environment committee meeting on Monday night.

Chelsea residents already have enough problems to deal with, wrote Susan Buttenwieser, the president of the 26th Street Block Association, in an email.

"Our neighborhood is already contending with so many quality of life issues like the oversaturation of liquor licenses that has led to problematic bars and nightclubs," she said.

“The BoltBus proposal seems like yet another example of the overdevelopment of our neighborhood, without consideration of the impact on the community."