An influx of tour buses has driven residents batty
A tour showcasing the Empire States Building, Trump Tower and your bedroom window?
Residents of iconic city neighborhoods say tour buses have become a scourge, with people complaining about screeching brakes, booming microphones and double-deckers rolling past their homes.
“Tourists can look directly into the windows of residences,” said Barbara Backer, who liveson Bleecker Street, where a many as 150 buses a day jam down narrow streets in the Village. Sometimes the buses get stuck when turning off Bleecker, Backer said.
The private buses have spread into neighborhoods in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and 800 residents have signed a petition pushing for city legislation to regulate the industry.
Currently, 275 sightseeing buses ply New York City streets, an increase of 10 percent in the last two months, according to city figures. CitySights, one of the largest, advertises more than 30 packages running day and night.
“They are aiding the economy. They are taking people out of cars,” said Peter Pantuso of the American Bus Association, which represents the largest city tour companies. “I don’t quite understand the concern.”
Tour buses pumped more than $2 billion in New York State’s economy last year, most of it in the city, Pantuso said.
But in the past several years, the Brooklyn waterfront has become overrun with buses, with neighbors calling the police about the noise from the vehicles’ brakes and loudspeakers, according to the Fulton Ferry Landing Association, a neighborhood group.
Over in Hell’s Kitchen, residents are incensed that tour guides often characterize the neighborhood as a crime den once filled with gangs, said Lucas Shapiro of the Westside Neighborhood Alliance.
“They say pretty disparaging things,” Shapiro said.
Residents also worry about smoke and soot produced by the diesel buses, and city environmental officials recently charged that the companies haven’t done enough to clamp down on emissions, according to a letter obtained by amNewYork.
The city licenses tour buses and they are inspected every two years, but they are otherwise unregulated. Other cities, such as Washington, D.C., restrict tour buses from driving in residential neighborhoods.
Thursday, the City Council will hold a public hearing on a bill requiring companies to submit route plans for city and community review. Another bill would require bus passengers listen to the tours through headphones.
Tom Lewis, president of Gray Line NY Sightseeing, said they are working with city officials to address concerns from some Manhattan residents.
“We are confident we can address them to everyone's satisfaction,” Lewis said
(Photo By Willie Davis)