For Bergen Beach residents near the neighborhood’s crowded bus depot, the cold weather is getting them hot under the collar.
As the temperature drops, locals say their problem with the choking exhaust from the New Dawn Transit bus depot gets worse because the hundreds of bus drivers who operate out of the facility are illegally idling for even longer every morning to warm up their vehicles.
One resident who can see the depot from her window says the cold has resulted in a noticeable increase in fumes.
“It is worse — it bumped it up a notch,” said Jennifer Debiasi, who claims her family is suffering from chronic breathing problems because of the exhaust. “I feel like crying sometimes.”
Debiasi said she would move in a heartbeat if she could find someone who would buy her home.
“I can’t afford to move,” she said. “Nobody in their right minds would want to live here.”
There have been other bus depots over the years in the lot on E. 69th Street between Avenues S and W, but residents say the current transit company is the worst because it hosts many more buses than any of its predecessors. One resident said that the boisterous buses — which are regularly double-parked all over the neighborhood — are taking over the area because there are so many of them.
“That seems to be the biggest issue — the quantity of them, they’re just packed in like sardines,” said longtime local Joe Dai. “That seems to be the major issue.”
Locals suspect the landowner intentionally brought in a troublesome bus depot in order to push neighbors to support a plan to build condos on the site.
The community has been fighting the buses throughout the school year, but Debiasi said her family’s health has continued to deteriorate because of the fumes.
“The doctor said to me without a doubt it contributes to it. She said ‘I feel so bad that’s what you’re facing,’ ” said Debiasi. “I myself have never had breathing issues, but ever since November, I can’t tell you how many medications I’ve been on. People were scared of me because I’m constantly coughing.”
She said she wishes the depot would vacate but she said she isn’t expecting anything to happen at least until the spring.
“You sit here and you look and feel helpless,” she said. “Now you have the winter months — they’re not going to find anything now.”