Officials Hold Summit on WTC Memorial Tour Bus Problem

Daniel L. Squadron

April 18, 2011

The Tribeca Tib

By Jessica Terrell

POSTED Apr. 15, 2011

With the opening of the National Sept. 11 Memorial less than five months away, city and state officials said on Friday that they are

making progress on a plan for coping with the expected influx of tour buses into Lower Manhattan. But nothing has been finalized and only one deadline for a decision is certain: “Sept. 11,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said.

Still, officials attending a multi-agency meeting on the potential bus problem, convened by Silver on April 15, did allay some community concerns. The Department of Transportation, they said, has scrapped its plan to consider a bus layover zone that could include streets as far north as Warren Street in Tribeca, a narrow residential street with two schools and a community center. Battery Park City streets are also no longer being considered.

“How could we have put all those buses on Warren Street?” said Community Board 1 chair Julie Menin. “It would have been disastrous. We did object to that strenuously…so we actually are making progress.”

The city is now considering five spaces along Trinity Place between Rector and Thames Streets and three spaces on Church Street between Barclay Street and Park Place for pick up and drop off locations, a source at the meeting said. For bus layover and parking, officials have identified spaces on Barclay and West Streets.

Around five million people are expected to visit the Memorial during its first year, with 15 to 20 percent of those visitors arriving by bus. A reservation system is being planned to limit the number of tour buses coming Downtown. But temporary layover zones will be needed for the six to eight buses an hour that are expected until the underground Vehicle Security Center is completed in 2013.

Local elected officials say the best layover location for the buses is across the river in New Jersey so that tourists will use ferry and other public transportation to get to the memorial, then remain Downtown for the day.

“They are going to stay longer, they are going to spend more dollars, they are going to be part of the community,” State Sen. Daniel Squadron said at a press conference following the meeting. “When you have them come by the tour buses it’s not going to work as well.”

Downtown Manhattan, he added, also needs a no cruising law for buses and permit legislation to ensure buses are using the curb appropriately before the memorial opens.

Local officials also want to see revenue from bus parking meters to help offset the cost of traffic enforcement.

Silver’s stakeholder meeting was the first of several on the bus issue, and officials said there is still much to be decided. Squadron is expected to host the next stakeholders’ meeting of city and state officials in May.

“We want to make sure this Memorial keeps the momentum of Downtown going forward,” Silver said.

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