Downtown being taken for The Ride

Photo courtesy of The Ride This map shows the route that buses from “interactive entertainment experience” The Ride will ply though Lower Manhattan three times a day, seven days a week.
Photo courtesy of The Ride
This map shows the route that buses from “interactive entertainment experience” The Ride will ply though Lower Manhattan three times a day, seven days a week.

BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC  |  The Ride will not be denied.

In the face of Community Board 1’s strong opposition, the Dept. of Transportation has granted The Ride — an “interactive entertainment experience” that includes live performances on the sidewalk — a stop on Water St. for its new Downtown route.

Three times a day, seven days a week, The Ride will load and unload its 45-foot bus at 200 Water St. and then wind its way through Lower Manhattan with a proposed route that includes Broadway, West St. and South End Avenue.

“We’re anxious and very happy to be part of Downtown,” Dan Rogoski, president of The Ride.

Rogoski said The Ride Downtown will likely start in spring 2016 and will focus on the area’s historical sights. There is a 75-minute The Ride Times Square, which costs $74 per person, and The Tour, which focuses on the Upper West Side and Times Square for $45, he said.

From the start, CB1 was wary to add yet another tour bus to Downtown’s already congested streets, and Rogoski went before two committees — the Seaport Committee and the Quality of Life Committee — in an effort to win over the board.

But details Rogoski presented about The Ride’s plans — such as stopping and parking its 45-foot bus while riders watch performances staged on the sidewalk — made board members even more skeptical.

“The community is overrun with tour buses,” said Jeff Ehrlich, co-chairman of the Quality of Life Committee. “The idea of this touring bus around Downtown slowing down or stopping for performances is unacceptable.”

Even beyond the congestion issue, committee member Marc Ameruso objected to the idea of a private company appropriating public space.

“The sidewalk belongs to the people,” he said.

The Quality of Life Committee ultimately split on whether to approve the bus stop, but that was not the case at the full board meeting in October, where a resolution against the stop passed easily.

Asked on Oct. 29 if the board’s denial meant The Ride wouldn’t get the stop at 200 Water St., a D.O.T. spokesman said, “NYC D.O.T. works closely with the community boards to issue permits for intercity bus stops. We do not approve any bus stop without going through the review process with a community board, who can advise about potential bus stop sites.”

But while advice may be necessary, consent obviously is not. Twelve days after that statement, the D.O.T. approved the bus stop, according to Rogoski. He said the company would take into account objections to the slowing down and stopping, and pledged that The Ride will have little or no impact on traffic and congestion.

But CB1 members still feel like the city threw them under the bus.

“It’s comical that they’re letting this happen,” Ameruso said. “The city made an approval for a company to contribute to vehicular and pedestrian congestion.”

The D.O.T. later explained that community board resolutions are advisory, and the power to approve bus stops rests with them. But the agency also pointed out that what it giveth, it can also take away.

“Resolution denials are only advisory,” said the D.O.T. spokesperson on Nov. 16. “D.O.T. approved the bus stop at the location and will monitor its operation and reserve the right to revoke the bus stop.”