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Trainspotter

Shuttle bus hell on wheels: Brooklyn Ikea service has more than 50 violations

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When it comes to the free Ikea shuttle, customers seem to be getting what they pay for.

 

The Swedish furniture giant’s popular buses between its Red Hook store and three nearby subway stops have been hit with more than 50 safety violations since November — for infractions from broken headlights and worn tires to unlicensed drivers and missing safety inspections.

 

In November, state inspectors even ordered one bus immediately off the road after they discovered that both rear emergency exits were broken and wouldn’t open.

 

“They’re breaking the law. Period,” said shopper Kevin Brown, 49, from Harlem, as he waited to board the bus home last week and drives a coach for a living.

 

“Your equipment should be up to par — if not, it’s a danger to the passengers and even the driver,” added Brown.

 

Last week, another Ikea bus was abruptly forced out of service for having an expired registration, according to the state Department of Transportation, which conducted the surprise inspections.

 

Twice inspectors also kicked drivers off their buses for failing to have a bus license, officials said.

 

“I hope to get there in one piece,” said Laura Cruz, 26, who learned of the violations while waiting at the Court St./Borough Hall station last week. The buses also run to the Smith-9th St. and 4th Ave.-9th St. stations.

 

The violations, which each carry a maximum fine of $5,000, were given to six different bus companies running the route in November, January and again last Thursday.

 

Ikea spokesman Joseph Roth said last week he was "surprised" to learn of the violations, and vowed to "monitor the situation."

 

Roth said the retailer has a contract with Corporate Express, based in Gravesend, for the route, but added that Corporate has subcontracted to several others. "Certainly, these recent situations have made us quite concerned," said Roth.

 

Corporate Express attorney Arthur Miller said he had not yet seen any paperwork on any violations given to his client or any subcontractor, but he downplayed the infractions, saying in many cases they would be easily dismissed by showing the proper paperwork or proof of repairs. He also suggested the crackdown was sparked by neighborhood critics still sore about the controversial store. "The fact is, [state inspectors] were called. And any agent will tell you they can always find something wherever they go."

 

The violations are the latest bump in the road for the free shuttle - which has been popular with Red Hook commuters wanting a free ride since the store opened last June.

 

Ikea has been slowly cutting back the service since September because of a drop in customers.

 

Last fall, residents near the stops complained that buses were idling and spewing exhaust.

 

Rider Linda Bell, 58, who lives in Red Hook and works at a day care center near the Smith-Ninth St. stop, said the violations were enough to make her stop using the free service.

 

"I would rather walk," she said.

 

BY Tim Persinko, Amanda-Rae Prescott and Elizabeth Hays

DAILY NEWS WRITERS

March 24th 2009

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Yeah, but, they got the money for it?

Besides there's a bus line to IKEA, that will make the shuttle bus redundant. The only reason why the shuttle bus got popular was because it is free.

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