The stink from idling school buses at a Bergen Beach depot has neighbors fuming.
Residents near the New Dawn Transit bus depot on E. 69th Street between Avenues X and W complain that the buses start idling noisily before dawn and double park in front of their driveways — only to speed through the neighborhood when they do leave.
The buses begin idling each day at 4:30 am, according to locals, and even at the end of the day they sometimes idle until after 10 pm.
The fumes in the morning are so strong, one mother said she wakes up at 4 am to shut her windows, so the exhaust doesn’t penetrate into her home and affect her two young children.
“I literally have my phone on a timer,” said Jamie Balsamo, who lives across the street from the bus depot. “The smell of the fumes are ridiculous.”
The gravel lot was used as a bus depot before, and was vacant for almost a year before the buses from New Dawn Transit started filling the depot in early August. But locals say the previous depot had only 40 buses, compared to nearly double that many now.
Neighbors are also worried about the buses’ speed. One local father used a radar gun to check the speed of the departing buses and claims to have closked one bus zooming down E. 69th at 48 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour zone.
“A kid runs out — god forbid — to get a ball, there is no way that bus is going to stop in time,” said Joe Ragusa, who lives across the street from the bus depot. “Something has to be done — we all have young children.”
Reached by phone, the owner of New Dawn Transit denied that a bus was capable of speeding near the depot.
“There’s no way a bus can rev up fast enough,” said the woman, who would not give her name.
When questioned about the buses illegally parking or idling, she said she was working with the police and did not want to speak with the press.
Before the school year started, locals say they accepted the noise — sensors beeping, engines running, drivers shouting — because employees were inspecting the buses for the school year. One local said she thought the turmoil would be temporary and last only until the buses got into a routine.
“There were 400 people on the street — it looked like a movie shoot,” said Ann, who did not want to give her last name because she claims she was spit on by a driver. “I said, ‘I’ll give them until the end of the first week of school and they’ll get their act straightened out.’ ”
But the problem persisted. She said the buses park illegally on residential roads — sometimes, up to four buses are stacked in front of each other, blocking driveways.
“They were double parked in front of every single house from Avenue Y to Avenue W,” she said.
Ann said she is determined to fight the buses and their fumes and take back her life — and her garden, which she said she hasn’t been able to enjoy because of the bus fumes.
“I built and dug every flower bed,” she said. “And they’re not going to take that. They’re not going to take that.”