Call to ban tour buses from NYC ‘misguided’

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Kathryn Wylde, CEO and President of the Partnership for New York City, a non-profit organisation consisting of a group of around 300 CEOs from the city’s top corporate, investment and entrepreneurial firms which aims to enhance the economy and maintain the city’s cultural and economic prominence, has called for tourist buses to be banned from the central district in a move which has been branded ‘misguided.’

Coach tourists are reported to generate an estimated $4.15 billion per year in revenue for the city. Kathryn recently stated: “We should rededicate street space in New York City to new uses. I think it’s time to stop the tour bus traffic. I’d like to put that on the list of things to get rid of.”

US industry magazine Bus & Motorcoach News reports that local industry representatives called her attempt to remove tourist coaches from the city ‘woefully misguided.’ Glenn Every, President of the BUS4NYC Coalition said: “Buses are not only environmentally friendly, the most efficient method of moving people, the choice of millions of commuters and the key to relieving traffic congestion — they are also an economic lifeline that directly benefits Broadway, restaurants, hotels, museums and virtually all other facets of the NYC tourism industry.”

He was backed up by George Lence, Former Chief Operating Officer for NYC & Company: “Tour buses are a critically important part of New York’s tourism infrastructure, and from an environmental point of view, every bus on the street takes up to 80 cars off the road,” he told the magazine.

Stephanie Lee, President and CEO of Group Sales Box Office, added: “There’s no way we could get all of these tourists into the theatre district without buses. Kathryn Wylde’s statements that she wants to rid Manhattan’s central business districts of tour buses is reckless. She claims there’s a growing consensus to rid tour buses in these areas. Who’s the growing consensus? I’ve never been asked. I couldn’t imagine tour buses being excluded from Times Square. We rely on tourism as a lifeline for Broadway. Those groups aren’t just coming to Broadway. They’re staying at the hotels. They’re dining at the restaurants. They’re seeing all of the attractions that the greatest city in the world city has to offer.”

Research by the American Bus Association has shown that buses moved over 7 million group tour visitors a year. Stephanie questioned what alternative there might be: “I can’t imagine a group of 52 kids taking the subway together, or having them ride their bikes together or walking through traffic together. Do you drop senior citizens off at West Side Highway and have them walk?”

In a response published by Bus & Motorcoach News, Kathryn suggested somewhat paradoxically: “The streets of the central business district suffer from excess congestion, and we are losing space on the streets every day. The cost of excess traffic congestion is more than $20 billion a year, and tour buses are a major contributor to the problem. New Yorkers are making the modal shift from private vehicles to public transit and bikes. Visitors to the city should do the same.”