CB4 Wants DOT to Rethink 31st St. Bus Stop
BY SAM SPOKONY | The Community Board 4 (CB4) Trans-portation Committee voted on November 20 to recommend against the city’s proposal for a new intercity bus stop near the corner of West 31st Street and Eighth Avenue.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) proposal would allow Gunther Charters — a subsidiary of Tripper Bus Service — to run 35 arrivals and departures per day, between New York and both Virginia and Maryland.
The DOT’s planned site, which is on the north curb of West 31st Street, just west of Eighth Avenue, is located at a terminal already used by both Tripper and Go Buses, another intercity transit company. The new addition of Gunther buses would, collectively, make for an average of 170 long distance departures and arrivals per week at the site, according to data provided by the bus companies to CB4’s Transportation Committee.
In a letter to the DOT that was drafted after its November 20 meeting — and which will have to be approved at CB4’s December full board meeting — the Committee cited “insufficient space” as a primary reason for its opposition to the proposed site.
As it currently stands, the West 31st Street terminal is approximately 70 feet long (the length of one bus). The Committee pointed out that, based on all three bus carriers’ arrival and departure schedules, numerous overlaps in service would sometimes require the presence of two or even three buses at a time in the single-bus-length space, and would likely lead to increased congestion in an area that is already traffic-heavy.
“The applicant indicated that when there is conflict, the buses [will] circle around the block until the space becomes available,” the Committee’s letter reads.
As part of their recommendation, CB4 members requested that the DOT explore two alternative options for the new Gunther terminal.
The first, which the Committee described as its “preferred option,” would instead place the new bus stop on West 33rd Street, either just west of 10th Avenue or just west of 11th Avenue.
“This would be a vastly better option since it would remove traffic from a very congested area and remove illegal thru traffic and parking in residential areas,” the letter states.
The second option would involve the DOT creating three separate bus-length terminals along the north curb of West 31st Street, thereby eliminating problems with overlapping arrivals or departures.
The DOT declined to comment specifically on those alternatives, because the Committee’s letter has not yet been approved as an official CB4 resolution.
“We look forward to continuing to work with [CB4] on this effort to better locate intercity bus stops,” said a DOT spokesperson.
In a November 29 phone interview, CB4’s Jay Marcus (a co-chair of the Transportation Committee) said he is hopeful that the DOT will actually consider and implement one of the proposed alternatives, even though the city agency did not send a representative to his committee’s November meeting.
Marcus explained that he was sufficiently impressed by the agency’s work in a similar situation that took place in October, when the DOT amended its original proposal to relocate two Bolt Bus stops — currently on West 33rd Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, and West 34th Street just west of Eighth Avenue — to a single site near the corner of West 39th Street and 10th Avenue.
After the Transportation Committee opposed the relocation, the DOT reconsidered the plan and instead chose to move the two Bolt stops to a combined terminal on West 33rd Street, just west of 11th Avenue (next to one of the sites CB4 recommended for the new Gunther bus stop).
“We were very grateful for that,” said Marcus, who also said he believes Margaret Forgione, the DOT’s Manhattan Borough Commissioner, has been “excellent and amazingly responsive” on a variety of CB4 issues.