After mulling it over for a day, Mayor Bloomberg has opted to sign the bill aimed at shushing the noisy sound systems used by sightseeing buses that are oh, so popular with tourists and visitors to the Big Apple.
The bill requires installation of a headphone-limited sound system on all open-air buses by July 1, 2015, on an escalating schedule each year for the bus operators.
The mayor had been expected to sign the bill Tuesday at a bill-signing hearing, which are usually very scripted affairs.
Instead, for the second time since he became mayor in 2002, Bloomberg balked at signing one of the bills placed before him. He said he wanted to meet with Council Speaker Christine Quinn to discuss the concerns of the Transport Workers Union that tour guides might lose their jobs if the tour bus companies replace them with recorded tour tapes.
The mayor had said, “If I sign the bill, don’t be too surprised.”
(Ok, guys -- nobody act surprised!)
Sponsored by Councilwoman Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan), the bill is intended to relieve residents of neighborhoods popular with tours from hearing loud announcements and tour spiels, sometimes late into the night. Particularly hard hit are communities like Greenwich Village, Chelsea and downtown Brooklyn. Brewer had worked hard on the bill and had wanted to include a prohibition against replacing tour guides with recorded tapes. She was told that such a prohibition would be illegal.
The bill had passed in the Council by 43-to-2 vote, with six members absent. One of the no votes came from Councilman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn), who had objected to the measure because of concern that tour guides would be pushed out of their jobs. Barron did succeed in limiting the bill to open-air, or partially open-air, tour buses. The prior version of the bill had applied to all sightseeing buses.