S#!t We Put Up With Every F@&%ing Day: What’s With All These Crazy Buses?

Tight squeeze on Flushing Avenue.
Tight squeeze on Flushing Avenue.

Flushing Avenue, 11 a.m. The normal life-endangering crapshoot: Taxi drivers pulling into the bike lane and then just sitting there on their phones. Construction workers struggling to finish a reconstruction that should have been done ages ago. Drivers speeding and veering around turning cars.

You don’t even notice it anymore.

But then suddenly the road fills with school buses dropping off their little charges at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. And then … just sitting there idling in the bike lane. And then you encounter a police officer. And then you run the plates.

And then you wonder: Why is my life being endangered by so many people who don’t care? Why are school bus drivers so reckless? Why have I already written my obit? Why does it predict my demise on the road?

Let’s start with the composite picture:

bus shit show

Unpictured? An NYPD traffic officer who was idling on the south side of Flushing. When this reporter asked him to please help keep the streets safe, he replied, “I have to find out if they are allowed to park there.” (Fact: They are not allowed to park there. All of the buses in the photo were either in “No standing” zones or in a painted bike lane — or both.)

Streetsblog ran the plates on the buses in the picture. Five of six had received tickets. Four of six had received camera-issued tickets for speeding in school zones or running red lights. Three of six had received multiple serious moving violations. One had four speeding tickets and four red light tickets.

Here are the worse of those records from Howsmydrivingny.

Four red lights and four speeding tickets.
Four red lights and four speeding tickets.
One red light and one speeding ticket.
One red light and one speeding ticket.
One red light and one speeding ticket.
One red light and one speeding ticket.

To put all of this in perspective, a driver can only get a camera-issued speeding ticket if he or she is exceeding the speed limit by 11 or more miles per hour. The math: That means that these buses were traveling at a speed of 36 miles per hour or more when the tickets were issued. And those tickets are only issued in the city’s 140 school zones — and only during school hours.

So why are school buses, which weigh roughly 25,000 pounds, being driven in such an unsafe manner … in school zones … during school hours?

And why are buses illegally parking in a bike lane on an already dangerous crucial east-west feeder route to the Manhattan Bridge?

And why don’t all NYPD officers know the rules about parking?

We’ll update this story if we get answers.

Gersh Kuntzman is editor of Streetsblog. He writes the “Cycle of Rage” column. Prior posts are archived here.

  • Reader

    I can’t speak to the behavior or records of each driver, but what’s up with all these buses parking in bike lanes is that the New York City DOT designs bike lanes that can be parked in.

  • Joe R.

    Yes, why do we have so many school buses? Part of the answer is no longer requiring grade school and middle school kids to attend the nearest school, as was the case when I was young. We should go back to that policy. My understanding is NYC spends a few billion annually busing kids around. Besides posing the dangers outlined in this article, that’s money which instead could be spent in the classroom improving local schools that don’t measure up. The strange thing is back when I was in school, when they had wanted to start busing kids to reduce segregation, most parents were opposed, and as a result the policy was never implemented in NYC. My mom had come to one of the meetings and said she would pull me out of school if they started busing. And now parents are OK having their children bused many miles each day? Here we all know how dangerous road travel is. We shouldn’t be subjecting children to it as a matter of policy. It’s time to rethink this entire idea of school choice. In my opinion it does more harm than good. Sitting on bumpy, smelly bus for an hour or more each day has to compromise the ability to learn. Breathing in the fumes will make these poor kids more prone to cancer later in life. Then you have the injuries the buses cause, both to the kids inside and those around them. It’s just an awful policy which can’t end soon enough. NYC already has enough traffic. We shouldn’t implement policies which unnecessarily generate more.

  • nanter

    Agree with everything you say here, but a few billion annually? That sounds improbably high.

  • Joe R.

    https://www.wnyc.org/story/284319-why-new-york-city-school-busing-is-so-expensive/

    In 1980, the city spent $71 million on pupil transportation. Those costs ballooned to over a billion dollars last year.

    Note the article is from 2013. I couldn’t find anything more recent. However, between general cost increases (i.e. things like this always seem to increase way faster than general inflation), and the fact we’re busing even more students now than in 2013, means we could be spending a few billion.

    The bottom line is whatever the number is, it’s a lot of money.

  • nanter

    That is incredible

  • Joe R.

    Yep. My eyes literally bulged out of their sockets when I first read how much the city spends on busing, especially compared to the numbers when I was in school.

  • crazytrainmatt

    Wow, the “over a billion dollars” refers to 2012. NYC had $67B in total operating expenses in 2012 (up to $87B in 2018). So almost 2% of the operating budget is busing kids around.

  • cjstephens

    I’m going to tread very lightly here, but are those buses dropping off children at public schools?

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