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BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC | Lower Manhattan residents expressed frustration with the amount of bus traffic due to the dropping off and picking up of visitors at the 9/11 Memorial at a Sept. 8 meeting of Community Board 1’s Planning Committee.
The museum, which opened in May, has had over 900,000 visitors and will close in on one million this month. At that time, the memorial ended its ticketing system, leading to a sharp spike in tour buses visiting the site, community leaders say.
Jim Connors, the executive vice president of operations, gave an update about the museum and said that the majority of museum visitors are arriving on foot or taking mass transit. Visitors are emailed maps and directions of how to get to the museum. Less than one percent of the museum’s visitors come by bus, he said.
“We have a very proactive approach to dealing with tour buses,” said Connors.
When a museum reservation agent speaks with a visitor, the first thing that the visitor is advised is to please not come by bus. The museum does not allow for bus parking and dropping off during commuter hours, only from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. There are two slots for two buses per half-hour time slot, said Connors.
But resident Mary Perillo said the two buses per time slot does not include the hundreds of buses dropping visitors off all day long, every day, seven days a week.
“For every person who comes to the memorial museum in a bus, there’s probably four buses just taking people to the memorial plaza,” said Catherine McVay Hughes, chairperson of Community Board 1. “Currently there’s nothing set up to manage those three or four other buses that are not having to go through your procedure to go to the museum. I think that’s the frustration.”
Tammy Meltzer, committee member, said that the buses loop around after dropping visitors off and park at the M.T.A. stops, next to the schools and any place they can pit stop while people visit the plaza.
“There are hundreds in a week who are like this,” she said. “They block sidewalks and bus stops and things, and so it’s not safe for kids.”
Hughes said borough president Gale Brewer has met with commissioners from the N.Y.P.D. and Departments of Transportation and Consumer Affairs to discuss tour buses.
“It’s a serious issue,” said Hughes.