2002-07-06 / Letters

Green Bus The Problem

Green Bus The Problem

The following letter was sent to Congressman Anthony Weiner

Dear Congressman Weiner;

I have met you several times during your visits to the Mill Basin School, PS 236, in Brooklyn where I serve as the Assistant Principal. Today, however, I reach out to you as a constituent of the Rockaway Peninsula. I am generally not one to call upon the "heavy hitters" to solve a problem. Yet in this case, this correspondence is being made after countless efforts to curtail air and noise pollution produced by the Green Line Bus Corporation.

Over the past several years, I have contacted the EPA and DOT to assist me with this issue.  I have written letters to my local Assemblywoman.  I have even voiced my complaints in the local paper, The Rockaway Wave. Still, each year, I go through the same routine. I call, I email and complain.  A few conspicuously marked vehicles from the EPA arrive and ticket a couple of the bus drivers. The local police drive right by, ignoring it all together. (Do they not have anything to do with enforcing this code?) The bus company supervisor comes and sits on the corner periodically as well. Still, day in and day out, as well as night in and night out, the buses idle and idle, spewing fumes and noise into the potentially serene atmosphere of the Rockaways. The most flagrant place of this occurrence is on Newport Avenue at B 116 and B 117 Street. As you are well aware, the Green Line Bus has a route, which begins at the Flatbush and Nostrand Avenue Junction, which ends at B 116 Street and Newport Avenue in Rockaway Park. Rather than misdirect us at this point toward the related issue of the adverse effect that these heavy vehicles have upon our delicate pothole, dip and depression-filled Newport Avenue and surrounding home foundations, I will first remain focused on the noise and the fumes, which detract unnecessarily, and unmercifully from a residential zone.

This issue will only grow in magnitude now that new homes are being built at the corner of B 117 and Newport Avenue.  Imagine trying to sell a home as a bus idles loudly over the real estate agent's sales pitch. Better yet, imagine the thoughts of the potential homeowner when the entire foundation of the house shakes as the bus careens into the obsolete "Hold Over" point at B 117 and Newport Avenue.

During my numerous correspondences with the Green Line Bus Company, they have informed me that this particular "Hold-Over" point is necessary for their drivers to get a break.  At what point do the constituents of the neighborhood, property managers, and homeowners get a break from their flagrant violation of the NYC three-minute idling law? Again, without questioning the necessity of parallel transportation routes on a three to five block wide peninsula, I still must wonder why the city subsidizes a company, which continues to pollute our air and violate the law? Has the DOT even examined the possibility that these vehicles are too heavy for the shifting sand beneath the asphalt of our streets?

I can recall a time when a bus fell right through the asphalt at the turn near Beach Channel Drive and B 117 Street. Has the EPA ever examined the amount of oil on the pavement or fumes in the air where these buses idle? If this route continues to exist, perhaps smaller, clean burning vehicles should be placed along its path?  Moreover, if this route continues in operation, and insofar as the "Hold-Over" point is concerned, then perhaps the run should extend down Beach Channel Drive to the available curb adjacent to Waldbaums. At that point, the drivers may take their breaks, have a slice of pizza, or even drop people off and pick them up at the supermarket or post office. They may even utilize the facilities available in the eating establishments along this strip. No longer would we have to witness a desperate driver urinating in the rear stairwell of his vehicle. (This is a horrible thought, but it does periodically happen.) The bus may then resume and loop around B 108 Street, all nonresidential property, and continues up Beach Channel Drive to Newport Avenue via B 117.

I am filled with suggestions and ideas, but they mean nothing unless a local politician who has an interest in constituent and environmental matters gets involved.  Perhaps there is a lawyer out there who recognizes that tort may be present? Is it true that State Attorney General Elliot Spitzer just won a suit against several bus companies for similar infractions?

At the end of the day, all we want is peace and quiet, smooth streets, air that we can breathe, and a street that doesn't shake beneath us. After all, isn't it bad enough that we wake in the middle of the night as our homes shake from ever low flying planes above? But that's another issue.

BRIAN O'CONNELL


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