Renewed effort comes as L train shutdown concerns loom over already congested streets

CITY HALL – Today, Council Member Margaret S. Chin and Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer pushed forward legislation to limit the number of sightseeing tour buses clogging crowded city streets, polluting our air, and threatening the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.

“For years, Downtown residents have demanded relief from seemingly endless lines of sightseeing tour buses – especially those that serve no other purpose than as oversized advertisements on clogged city streets,” said Council Member Chin. “It is time that those serious safety and quality of life concerns are heard, and that reasonable limits on the number of double-decker tour buses are made. Given the traffic nightmare set to be unleashed by an L train shutdown, we have little time to spare to debate solutions to combat the gridlock on city streets. I thank my partner on this legislation, Manhattan Borough President Brewer, and advocates for joining in the fight for common sense measures to address the crisis of growing traffic congestion.”

“The multiple tour buses piled up at curbs or cruising the streets when they’re nearly empty make our point for us: we need to set ground rules for this industry,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A.  Brewer. “To seriously tackle street congestion and related quality-of-life problems, everything needs to be on the table. That includes limits and regulations for an industry that’s put hundreds of extra buses on our streets.”

“Community Board 2 has long appealed for relief from the overwhelming number of tour buses that fill our streets,” said Terri Cude, Chair of Community Board 2. “They endanger pedestrians, pollute our air with emissions and noise, jeopardize our fragile buildings and narrow streets, and exacerbate congestion.  The upcoming L-train shutdown makes placing controls on tour buses even more urgent.  I am so pleased that a new effort by Borough President Brewer and Councilmember Chin is underway to limit these buses and their endless advertising-display loops around our streets.”

“The Broadway Residents Coalition fully supports during the L-Train Shutdown limitations on the large numbers of double decker tourist buses traveling around and through NoHo, SoHo, Little Italy and nearby neighborhoods, where transit changes will bring big impacts to residents and others. Thanks in advance to Councilmember Chin and Borough President Brewer,” said Pete Davies of the Broadway Residents Coalition.

First introduced in 2015, the reintroduced legislation, Intro 725, would require the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs to provide reasonable limits to the number of sightseeing tour buses operating on increasingly crowded city streets. Over the past few years, the number of sightseeing tour buses – often traveling empty of passengers – has vacillated greatly from a high of 237 in 2016 to 197 today.

Unlike almost every other type of license issued by the Department of Consumer Affairs, there currently is no limit to the number of licenses issued to sightseeing bus companies.

The proliferation of big tour bus companies has spawned various quality of life issues for local residents – including blocking “No Standing” zones, worsening air quality and noise, and causing numerous safety issues for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

At a Council hearing on the L train shutdown in December, the MTA presented a plan to accommodate riders by introducing roughly 70 shuttle buses per hour along the Williamsburg Bridge. Chin and Brewer’s legislation would strengthen existing efforts to mitigate the city’s congested roadways well in advance of the planned shutdown.

As a newly installed member of the Council’s Committee on Consumer Affairs, Chin is likely to join her colleagues in holding a public hearing on the bill.

 

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