When the MTA enacted major service cuts & eliminations recently, bus service was arguably the hardest hit. All 5 boroughs lost service with some having it worse than others. Private bus companies such as TransportAzumah have tried to pick up the slack by offering service in place of eliminated lines. However a judge put a stop to that quickly by filing a restraining order against the company.
This has not stopped a company called Mr. S Charter Services from doing something similar. The company has started to run buses via the X29 route which was eliminated. However according to a report by Matthew Schuerman of WNYC, they have done so with some questions about their company:
A number of private bus companies and van drivers are trying to pick up the slack left by this summer’s MTA’s service cuts. They’re thinking private enterprise could operate those routes more efficiently than the public sector — and even make a profit. In late June, one company, Mr. S Charter Services, started running along a former express bus route in Brooklyn.
The buses don’t look like typical MTA buses. When one pulls up to Coney Island Avenue and Avenue X after 7:30 one morning, its windshield is embalzoned with the words “God Bless America” and “Blessed Save with Grace.”
“He’s a lifesaver,” says one rider, Carole Ragab, about Mr. S (whose full name is Steve Lowery). “We wouldn’t have a bus to take.”
The interiors of Mr. S’s coaches are a bit more worn out than a typical MTA vehicle. But his buses stop at the same places where the old X29 express bus did until the MTA’s service cuts in late June. They start in Coney Island and ending up in Midtown Manhattan. Forty minutes into the ride, there are only a handful of seats empty. That’s when Mrs. S, the owner’s wife, boards the bus and collects $5 from everyone.
But there are hidden problems. Lowery was running charter buses throughout the Northeast before he took on this job. But in order to pick up and discharge passengers on routes within the five boroughs, he needs authorization from the city. A Transportation Department spokesman wouldn’t confirm that he has that authorization.
On interstate routes, federal inspectors have taken Mr. S’s buses out of service almost twice as frequently than the national average. That’s because inspectors found safety violations, including worn out tires, inadequate emergency exits and unqualified drivers.
The New York State Department of Transportation also found problems when Lowery was operating long-distance routes to upstate prisons.
Click here for the complete report.
It is nice to see a company picking up the slack for riders who depended on this particular route. However a thorough investigation into the company’s track record is in order & if it turns up unsatisfactory results, they should not be allowed to operate. While it is a good thing to pick up the slack, doing so with questionable equipment & safety records is not. I look forward to finding out more.
xoxo Transit Blogger