Second bus route to return to Park Row

By Claire F. Hamilton

The M15 bus route will return to Park Row within a week.

The latest development in Chinatown’s dispute with the Police Dept. over the partially-open road doubles the number of bus stops between Worth St. and City Hall to 400 per day. The M15 will mark the second bus route—after the M103—to be reinstated on Park Row since four were diverted after September 11.

The announcement was made Tuesday at Community Board 3’s Transportation Committee meeting on Fifth St.

Deputy Inspector Anthony T. Tria, who is working on the Park Row Environmental Impact Study, spoke to the committee and residents on behalf of the police department. The M15, which runs between Park Row and E. 126th St., is expected to return at the end of this week or early next week.

Tria offered no specific explanation as to why the two other bus routes could not be reinstated except to say, “Everything is on a trial basis.” He declined to answer security-related questions, handled by the Police Dept.’s Counter-Terrorism division, or offer anything definitive about the details of the Environmental Impact Study, including when it might be published.

Neither returning bus route connects Chinatown and the Lower East Side to neighborhoods south of City Hall, such as Battery Park City. Prior to the Park Row closure, some southbound bus routes carried passengers to other parts of Lower Manhattan. The restored M103 and the M15 routes begin on Park Row.

Chinatown residents have long complained about a lack of communication from the N.Y.P.D. about Park Row since the road closed to buses several months after 9/11.

"I thought that there would be more information forthcoming,” said Jeanie Chin, one of the Chinatown residents who sued the city over the street closing. “I’m just glad to hear that the M15 is running."

A 90-day trial period for the M103 ended on Aug. 15, after which the Police Dept. was expected to re-evaluate the potential for more traffic on the road.

Dep. Inspector Tria briefly outlined the geographical reach of the study’s 1/4-mile radius, with a map showing affected areas in terms of land use, security, traffic and socio-economics. He then answered questions from the audience. One member wanted a solution to the obstruction of emergency vehicles in the affected area. Tria pledged to develop a contact person between C.B. 3 and the Police Dept.

Although there is no projected completion date for the E.I.S., Tria also assured residents that their voices will be heard. A public hearing will follow the statement’s first draft, he said.

The community is continuing with a campaign of its own. Chinatown business owner Jan Lee plans to launch a Web site with photos taken by residents of illegally parked N.Y.P.D. official and civilian vehicles. Lee expects the site, funded by a Red Cross grant, to go live within three weeks.

Lee brought copies of flyers to the meeting that he said were attached to two civilian vehicles on Mosco and Mott Sts. in Chinatown that afternoon. The flyers, dated 9/20, warned drivers illegally parked in a so-called “self-enforcement zone” that a second violation could result in a command discipline or vehicle summons. They were signed, “Authority, 5th Pct Integrity Control Officer.”

Lee was skeptical the problem will be fixed. "The message is: you have another chance if you’re a police officer who breaks the law,” he said.

Members of the audience were clearly dissatisfied with a lack of more concrete answers, but were told that the community boards would be alerted to the next public hearing.

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