I went up to Central Park West on Monday to complete a long-delayed project to photograph every building on that avenue for my friend Bob’s website. I got out of the subway at 70th Street and Central Park West and crossed over to the park side of the avenue. It was a beautiful day with a brilliant late morning sun hitting the faces of the distinguished buildings along the park. Perfect for the project.
Before I had a chance to take out my camera, I glanced downtown and thought that there was a track fire in the subway underneath the street! There was a huge plume of smoke in the near distance. Backlit by the sun, it looked like the result of an enormous smoky blaze underneath the street. The lights changed and as I stood there, I watched a bus get nearer, and as it passed me, I saw the the cause of the smoke was actually the bus’s tail pipe. All the other people enjoying a stroll on the sidewalk and I were engulfed in a choking, filthy cloud of smoke. I avoided inhaling for a good minute and a half but the playful children around me probably didn’t do that. I wished that I had had my camera out to show you how prominent that bus smoke looked from that first vantage point.
The cloud eventually dissipated and I photographed three buildings for the project. Then I got on the subway and took it up to 81st Street. Then the exact same thing happened! Just as I was getting out of the second station, the very same bus was pulling past, haunting me wherever I went. This time, I had my camera, and caught a couple of pictures of the bus as it idled in traffic on West 81st Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue.
We’re looking at a bus owned and/or operated by SKYHAWK TOURS of Red Hook, Brooklyn. The bus’s New York State license plate was 11043•BA. When I caught up to it at 81st Street, there weren’t even any passengers on board. The bus was just driving around for no clear reason.
How are buses like this deemed street legal?