For Philadelphians who don’t have a car, or don’t want to drive it into New York City, buses have become a popular alternative.
In a crackdown earlier this year, federal officials, citing safety violations, shut down some “Chinatown bus” companies that operated between Philadelphia, New York and other cities.
But some buses filling that gap apparently are doing so illegally.
People climbed aboard a 3 p.m. bus Friday at one illegal stop on Race Street between Eighth and Ninth streets. Next to the bus, a white sandwich board advertised bus service between Philadelphia and New York.
While there are bus zone signs at the spot, Pat O’Donnell, with the city Streets Department, said this bus should not be here. “They’re in violation,” he said. In May, the bus company, STSC Transportation Services, paid $500 for a temporary permit for the bus stop. But that expired in June. To be considered legitimate, the bus company would have to pay the city $4,500.
O’Donnell said the bus company has 10 days to pay up, otherwise the city will remove the bus stop signs.
After a WHYY/NewsWorks inquiry, the city notified the bus line that it was in violation. The violations have implications for others beyond the passengers who take the bus to the Big Apple, O’Donnell said, in that it represents a public safety hazard.
“If they start operating illegally, depending on the location, it could be in a high residential area or it could be around a playground or a school where children are frequently crossing the streets,” he said. “And the buses are large enough where the children might be missed.” A recent Fox 29 report brought another set of illegal Philly-to-New York bus stops in Northeast Philadelphia to the city’s attention.
The grand opening of STSC Transportation in June attracted politicians and business leaders from across the city and the company was lauded for being an African-American owned business.
A woman who answered the phone at STSC’s office said she was unaware of the violation, but declined to comment further. No one at STSC could be reached for specific comment on the company’s outstanding $4,500 payment for the bus stop. A spokeswoman for the Streets Department said the notice of violation was mailed yesterday.
O’Donnell said he will work with city police and the Parking Authority to make sure the buses are not using that stop.