Idling tourist buses along Weehawken’s waterfront have township officials fuming. Tourism at Hamilton Park on Boulevard East, which provides spectacular views of Manhattan, has increased in the past year, but the mayor is not necessarily pleased with the results.
Mayor Richard Turner said last week that the township issued eight to 10 summonses to bus drivers in recent weeks, which “settled down” the problems.
Up to a dozen buses might be parked or double-parked on the street at once with the engine on, which causes fumes and traffic congestion, the mayor said.
“It’s a residential area and a very bad curve – a blind curve,” Turner said. “It’s just a dangerous situation for pedestrians and for drivers.”
The problem isn’t the increase in tourism, Turner said, but that drivers have nowhere to wait until the passengers are ready to get back on the bus after taking photos.
“Parking has always been a problem.” – Richard Turner
Turner said that the drivers should wait until legal parking becomes available. Otherwise, if they drop off passengers, they should use parking lots by the waterfront or other locations.
The buses carry tourists from outside the United States who are visiting the New York area, officials said.
Rules and regulations
The township has instructed walking patrolmen and park security to make sure buses park legally and operate in accordance with traffic laws.
“We let everyone know to keep an eye out and that this is an issue,” Turner said.
The township closes all parks in town at midnight in an effort to minimize the late-night photo ops.
“We remove everyone from the parks and gate them up,” Turner said. “At one, two, or three o’clock in the morning, there’s not a whole lot of good going on in a park.”
In addition to ticketing drivers, the township began a Residential Parking Program in April that issued residents a free parking sticker to distinguish cars that belong to residents from cars that belong to guests. Non-stickered cars have a four-hour time limit between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., except on Boulevard East, which is from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. After 10 p.m., all parked cars must have a residential parking sticker.
“Parking has always been a problem,” Turner said. “This is not something new. Commuters used to park their car in the streets and go into Manhattan. This prevents that sort of thing.”
Although tourist buses have regularly come to Boulevard East, the problem has “grown exponentially” in the past 12 to 18 months, Turner said.
“It started sometime last year,” Turner said, “where we received a tremendous amount of tourists to that location.”
As to why tourism has increased, Turner could only speculate.
“The bus companies are there to provide a service,” Turner said, “and part of that service is taking them to a place to see the view of Manhattan. It’s part of their route now, I guess. They found out it was a big sell.”
Sean Allocca can be reached at email@example.com