On the same day I decided to take a bus through "tourist hell" as one passenger referred to it, I witnessed firsthand the chaos that those double decker tour buses cause and a few hours later learned that two tour buses collided in Times Square near the TKTS booth.
We sat at the intersection for two lights trying to continue south on Fifth Avenue. When one passenger asked the bus driver if there was something going on that was causing the traffic to be so insanely clogged, he said it was all the buses. The coach buses and more to blame the double decker buses. "The city doesn't care about the public transportation," the MTA bus driver told us, "they just worry about the tourists. I don't know if they ever gonna regulate them." He explained all the extra buses leads to delays and that's why we'll see 4, 5, 6 buses all show up at the same time.
The familiar red of the Gray Line Sightseeing bus sat right in the intersection, blocking the box and four lanes of traffic.
Later my mother called to make sure I was OK since she'd heard about a tour bus accident in Times Square. I was fine since "I don't hang out in Times Square," I told her.
I learned the details of the accident a little later -- 14 people, some reports say 18, were injured in the accident between buses from Gray Line Sightseeing bus and City Sights NY. An infant was grabbed out of the way at the last second before a light pole came crashing down. The tour guide on one of the buses got her head lodged under the dashboard.
The latest development: the driver of the Gray Line bus was arrested for Driving While Impaired (DWI). How often are those drivers impaired while on the clock? Are they subject to testing above and beyond your average New York driver? I've witnessed many close-calls with those buses and one accident near Brooklyn Museum. They're trying to get their riders the best view or are too distracted by what's happening on the sidewalk or trying to flirt with women passing by (the former is wishful thinking and I've had firsthand experience with the latter).
Thankfully, no one was critically injured in the accident and there were no fatalities. But with many more companies offering hop-on, hop-off tours on these double decker buses, the streets will remain clogged, traffic will be snarled in certain areas and walking to tour NYC remains a great alternative.
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