In New York City, open-top double-decker buses are a great way of seeing the sights, and tourists love them.
But the feeling’s not shared by the people living in landmark neighbourhoods who say they are driven to distraction by the commentaries coming over the loudspeakers.
The City Council has now passed a law requiring the buses to replace loudspeaker systems with headphones, starting from July next year.
New York City’s sightseeing bus fleet has grown rapidly since the vehicles first appeared on the streets in the early 1990s. Efforts to quieten their loudspeakers have persisted for years, particularly in more residential neighbourhoods like the West Village, SoHo and Chinatown in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn.
“It’s a constant, pervasive, persistent noise,” said Barbara Backer, whose apartment faces the major tour bus corridor of Bleecker Street. “Some people wear earplugs in their homes.”
Thomas Lewis, President of Gray Line New York Sightseeing, insisted his buses did not violate the city’s strict noise code. Besides, he said, New Yorkers were subjected to many other sounds: garbage trucks, ambulances and other emergency vehicles, for example. “It’s one of the consequences of living in the city,” he said.
by Andy Moreton
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