Bill to muffle tour buses needs some fine-tuning, residents say
A bill to crack down on loud tour buses may get stuck in the slow lane.
The legislation, which has its first City Council hearing Monday, would require sightseeing buses to install sound systems that pipe the tour guide’s voice through headphones. But to the chagrin of residents craving relief from yapping guides, the regulations wouldn’t fully kick in until 2022.
“I can be dead in 12 years. This is absurd,” said Barbara Backer, a resident of Bleecker Street, where as many as 150 buses jam down the street a day.
About 250 sightseeing buses now ply city streets, according to city figures, with the companies charting dozens of tours day and night. As is, the guides typically stand on top of the double-decker buses and speak through a microphone, with the noise invading people’s homes.
“It’s as if people are talking in your living room. It is really very aggravating,” said Christine Berthet, a resident of Hell’s Kitchen, where buses run dozens of times a day.
City noise code actually outlaws amplified noise from moving vehicles, but enforcing the regulations has been difficult and headphones make for a simpler solution to the noise scourge, said Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who backs the legislation that has been years in the making.
“(The bill) will help prevent those sitting in their living rooms from having a front row seat on passing tour buses,” Quinn said.
Lawmakers said phasing in the regulations more quickly could put the companies out of business, because of the cost of the new equipment.
A spokesman for Gray Line Sightseeing, one of the city’s largest, said none of their buses have headphone systems and declined to comment on the bill.