curb appeal

BUS-TED: Police Vehicles Clog Bus Stops Near Precincts

NYPD vehicles block a bus stop in front of the 120th Precinct on Staten Island, Aug. 8, 2019.
NYPD vehicles block a bus stop in front of the 120th Precinct on Staten Island, Aug. 8, 2019. Photo: Clifford Michel/THE CITY

Bus stops near NYPD buildings are often doubling as parking spaces for police vehicles — forcing passengers to venture into the street.

THE CITY spot-checked 24 precincts and outposts for housing and transit cops that have neighboring MTA bus stops and found stops near eight of them being used for parking by police officers.

At an M10 stop at Frederick Douglass Boulevard and West 147th Street, steps from Police Service Area 6 in Harlem, bus drivers couldn’t pull up to the curb, thanks to vehicles with NYPD parking placards in the windshields.

“I could get hit by a car just trying to get to the bus,” said April Respress, 54, who uses a motorized scooter. “The police have given themselves the right to park here, but what about the safety of pedestrians, or people using wheelchairs and walkers?”

A B14 bus stops across the street from the NYPD’s 75th Precinct in Brooklyn, Aug. 2, 2019.
A B14 bus stops across the street from the NYPD’s 75th Precinct in Brooklyn, Aug. 2, 2019. Photo: Gabriel Sandoval/THE CITY

The bus-stop blockers ranged from a tiny 8-foot-long NYPD Smart car parked day and night across from the 120th Precinct on Staten Island to a massive NYPD school bus stationed in a B46 stop down the block from Brooklyn’s 77th Precinct.

“This is an abuse of authority,” said Jeffrey Morgan, 60, who was waiting for a B46 bus on Utica Avenue, half a block from the police stationhouse. “They’re not supposed to do whatever they want.”

‘A Pain in the Butt’

Ridership and citywide average bus speeds have been sinking for years. Bus drivers and transit advocates told THE CITY that’s in part because of service slowed by blocked bus lanes and stops.

“Anywhere that there’s a bus stop by a precinct, our guys are going to have a problem,” said Willie Rivera of Transport Workers Union Local 100. “It’s a pain in the butt.”

Rivera said bus drivers regularly encounter police vehicles parked in bus stops, creating “a real hazard” for other drivers who try to maneuver past the bus, as well as riders attempting to board.

Parked cars block a bus stop near a Police Service Area station at Frederick Douglass Boulevard and West 147th Street, Aug. 2, 2019.
Parked cars block a bus stop near a Police Service Area station at Frederick Douglass Boulevard and West 147th Street, Aug. 2, 2019. Photo: Jose Martinez/THE CITY

“It slows down everyone riding the bus by messing up the boarding process,” said Ben Fried of TransitCenter, an advocacy organization. “When the bus can’t reach the curb, it makes boarding tougher — especially for people with mobility challenges — because riders have to step farther up.”

The NYPD issued a statement in response to inquiries by THE CITY: “Except in emergencies, marked and unmarked NYPD vehicles may not be parked in bus stops and lanes. This policy, designed to ease congestion as part of the department’s commitment to ensure safe streets, is communicated to precinct commanders across the city and is reinforced with borough chiefs at weekly meetings on traffic and transportation.”

Amanda Kwan, an MTA spokesperson, did not directly address NYPD vehicles taking up space in bus stops. But, she noted: “Bus stops are clearly marked, and we hope that all New Yorkers will respect that.”

‘The Status Quo’

City Hall earlier this year pledged to speed buses by 25% by the end of 2020, by adding more bus lanes — and ticketing and towing vehicles illegally parked in bus lanes.

But on Sutter Avenue across from the 75th Precinct in Brooklyn, a shopkeeper told THE CITY that bus stops and fire hydrants blocked by police vehicles are the norm.

“You don’t really think about it because you see it happen so often,” said Deddye Alvarez, 23, whose family owns a religious statue store. “That’s just sort of the status quo.”

An NYPD Transit Bureau vehicle blocks an M3 bus stop at West 145th Street, Aug. 6, 2019.
An NYPD Transit Bureau vehicle blocks an M3 bus stop at West 145th Street, Aug. 6, 2019. Photo: Jose Martinez/THE CITY

Fried praised City Hall’s push to get buses moving quicker. At an average speed of 7.5 miles per hour, the buses are the slowest among major U.S. cities. But he said the plan doesn’t go far enough.

“Abuse of bus lanes and bus stops by police and other government officials remains a blind spot,” he said. “Bus riders need Mayor [Bill] de Blasio and Commissioner [James] O’Neill to make it clear that police should not park in bus lanes and bus stops.”

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