curb appeal

Block Party: Cop Cars Still Jamming Bus Stops After Exposé

Passengers venture into the street to board a B14 bus across from the 75th Precinct in East New York, Aug. 14, 2019.
Passengers venture into the street to board a B14 bus across from the 75th Precinct in East New York, Aug. 14, 2019. Photo: Gabriel Sandoval/THE CITY

They’re bus stops, not parking spaces — but some police officers don’t seem to know the difference.

THE CITY on Wednesday revisited eight police buildings whose nearby MTA bus stops were blocked last week by NYPD vehicles, and found five of the stops were still being used for parking by cops.

The NYPD has said its “no parking in bus stops except in emergencies” policy is reinforced among precinct commanders and borough chiefs at weekly meetings about traffic and transportation.

But the message didn’t seem to get through at these police outposts previously flagged by THE CITY for clogged bus stops:

• 75th Precinct, Brooklyn

• 77th Precinct, Brooklyn

• 120th Precinct, Staten Island

• Police Service Area 6, Manhattan

• Transit District 3, Manhattan

“Whatever they’re doing, it’s clearly not enough,” said Ben Fried of TransitCenter, an advocacy organization. “There are no consequences for precincts that obstruct bus stops and bus lanes with their squad cars, no consequences for officers who park their personal vehicles in bus stops. That has to change.”

A Police Department spokesperson said officials on Wednesday had “directed the removal of any NYPD vehicle found parked in a designated bus stop or bus lane.”

“Still, we recognize that our enforcement policy must improve,” said the spokesperson, Al Baker.

‘Wave My Cane’

A block from Police Service Area 6 in Harlem, both marked patrol cars and unmarked vehicles with parking placards in the windshields jammed an M10 bus stop on Frederick Douglass Boulevard.

“I have to go into traffic and wave my cane at the bus driver to get the bus to stop,” said Marlene Stringfellow, 80. “These police officers think they can do as they please, but just because you’re a police officer, you still have to abide by the law.”

“Waiting out in the street is kind of dangerous because you don’t know what to expect — anything can happen with the traffic,” said Alejandro Noboa, 24, who had walked into Frederick Douglass Boulevard at West 147th Street to wait for the M10.

Elderly passengers walk to the curb after exiting an M10 bus that is blocked by an NYPD vehicle at Frederick Douglass Boulevard and West 147th Street, Aug. 14, 2019.
Elderly passengers walk to the curb after exiting an M10 bus that is blocked by an NYPD vehicle at Frederick Douglass Boulevard and West 147th Street, Aug. 14, 2019. Photo: Jose Martinez/THE CITY

THE CITY reported Tuesday that one-third of the 24 bus stops that reporters spot-checked near NYPD buildings were occupied by police vehicles. On Wednesday, only three of those eight stops had been cleared.

An NYPD school bus that last week was parked in a bus lane at a B46 stop down the block from Brooklyn’s 77th Precinct was still there.

A tiny NYPD Smart Car and several cars with police placards filled the M10 stop half a block from a housing police command at West 147th Street in Manhattan.

And a car from the NYPD’s Fleet Services Division was parked at a stop outside the 145th Street subway station, which houses Transit District 3.

“I always see a police car at this bus stop,” said Ruth Joto, 72, who was waiting to catch a bus on Frederick Douglass Boulevard. “The police are the bosses, they’re the ones who park wherever they want.”

THE CITY also spotted marked police cars parked on a sidewalk and blocking a fire hydrant in front of the 77th Precinct in Crown Heights.

“It’s a bad example,” said Mabel Espinal, 29, after stepping off a bus whose stop was blocked by the NYPD’s school bus on Utica Avenue. “They need to be an example for the community by obeying the law.”

Blocked Stops Slow Buses

The obstructions add up to slowed down service and safety hazards for bus riders and drivers, representatives for Transport Workers Union Local 100 and the MTA told THE CITY.

“We’ve had discussions with the NYPD and absent urgent circumstances where time is of the essence on police business, they assured us they’re making every effort to keep these bus stops clear,” said Amanda Kwan, an MTA spokesperson.

An NYPD bus blocks MTA buses from pulling to the curb on Utica Avenue by the 77th Precinct in Crown Heights, Aug. 14, 2019.
An NYPD bus blocks MTA buses from pulling to the curb on Utica Avenue by the 77th Precinct in Crown Heights, Aug. 14, 2019. Photo: Gabriel Sandoval/THE CITY

Poking along at an average of 6.6 miles per hour, according to the Bus Turnaround Coalition, New York City buses have been called the slowest in the nation. Mayor Bill de Blasio has pledged to increase average travel speeds for buses by 25% by the end of next year.

But public transit advocates say the use of bus stops for parking by the NYPD also points to a crunch for parking space amid the growth in the number of city-owned vehicles. In 2018, the Mayor’s Management Report report said there were more than 31,000 vehicles in the city’s fleet — a 20%-plus rise since de Blasio took office in 2014.

In March, de Blasio said the city would cut its fleet by more than 1,000 vehicles.

“A concerted effort by the mayor and NYPD leadership to shrink the volume of placards and reduce the size of the NYPD fleet would also help,” said Fried of TransitCenter. “Police can walk and take transit like the rest of us.”

Sign up for “THE CITY Scoop,” our daily newsletter where we send you stories like this first thing in the morning.

Want to republish this story? See our republication guidelines.