Volume 18 • Issue 25 | November 4 - 10, 2005

The New York City Transit plans to reroute the M15 and B51 buses back through Park Row. The N.Y.P.D. closed part of the street after 9/11.

Two bus routes returning to Park Row Nov. 14

By Vanessa Romo

Two more city bus lines will be restored along pre-9/11 routes on Monday, Nov. 14, returning service through Park Row. The decision by the N.Y.P.D. to resume service of the M15 and B51 along their original routes has been long awaited by Chinatown residents and business owners, who have not had access to this section of the street since 2002.

The M103, restored in May, was the first bus line to resume its original route after a two-year legal battle with the N.Y.P.D. over the restricted access of the street. The M15 which runs between E. 126 St. and the end of Park Row, and the B51 which runs between Smith St. in Downtown Brooklyn to the end of Park Row, were diverted by the N.Y.P.D. as a security measure to protect One Police Plaza and the Brooklyn Bridge after 9/11. But residents have long argued this was an excuse by the Police Department to obtain additional parking for police vehicles.

“I’m a bus rider and I’m delighted,” said Jean Grillo, a Tribecan who like many Downtowners said the closure of the road to the public has kept Chinatown cut-off from the rest of Lower Manhattan. “But we’re not out of the woods yet,” she said. “There are still a lot of businesses that are hurting down here because they can’t get deliveries or people can’t park anywhere.”

All three buses had been rerouted onto a path around One Police Plaza, along Worth and Centre Sts. toward the end of Park Row, and back onto Frankfort and St. James Pl.

But the return of the buses does not mean a return of public access. Deirdre Parker, a spokesperson for New York City Transit, said the road is only open to N.Y.P.D. and emergency vehicles.

“There will be a special bus lane and the buses will be subject to random searches by N.Y.P.D. personnel,” she said.

Parker said there are no plans now to restore service to the last two routes that used to go down Park Row, the M9 and M22.
Full service of the M15 was expected to begin at the end of September according to Deputy Inspector Anthony T. Tria, who made the announcement at a Community Board 3 Transportation Committee meeting. But Parker said Transit was not ready to restore service at that time. “It simply would not have been feasible,” she said. “We were still in talks with the N.Y.P.D. then so there’s no way we could have had the buses back by then.”

Danny Chen, a resident of Chatham Green is also pleased by the return of the bus lines and said, “Anything that keeps the traffic off of already crowded streets wouldn’t hurt.” But Chen agrees with Grillo and fears it may be too late for many of Chinatown’s suffering businesses. It’s not enough to open the streets to buses, he said. “We need a big economic boom.”


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