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Bus Service Struggles for Harvard-N.Y. Line

TransportAzumah told to get jitney license, insists that it is not necessary.

By Damilare K Sonoiki, Contributing Writer

Determined to establish a direct bus line between Harvard Square and New York City by mid-November, a transportation service company that currently runs bus routes throughout the northeast is still facing one important barrier: the city of Cambridge.

TransportAzumah is facing demands from the Cambridge Licensing Commission that the company apply for a jitney license, required for businesses looking to transfer people into and out of the city, according to company founder Joel Azumah. The license could be quite difficult to obtain, he said.

According to Azumah, the city of Cambridge has previously “chased out” three other bus companies that attempted to establish a line connecting Harvard Square to New York—Greyhound, Entertainment Tours, and Vamoose.

“They’re not going to give you any license in Cambridge,” said Frank Curreri, the founder of Entertainment Tours.

Azumah said he believes that the jitney license required by the city is not necessary for carriers with routes that cross state lines, such as TransportAzumah.

“They seem hell-bent on enforcing a licensing process that isn’t legal,” Azumah said.

But Cambridge License Commission chairman Richard V. Scali said that Azumah was mistaken.

“In order to have a fixed route from Point A to Point B, go into the City of Cambridge, and charge a fee, you need a jitney license,” said Scali. Curreri said that Entertainment Tours had a bus license from the state, but received a desist order from the city of Cambridge.

“You know how it is in the People’s Republic of Cambridge,” Curreri said. “They rule.”

He said that a Harvard Law School student attempted to defend the company’s right to operate in Cambridge, but was unsuccessful.

Azumah acknowledged that the city had received complaints about traffic congestion and early morning noise caused by the buses used by previous companies. But he said he did not consider the complaints sufficient to prevent a Cambridge-to-New York bus route from operating.

Despite the complaints, Curreri said that Entertainment Tours’ Cambridge-to-New York line, prior to the city’s desist order, had been popular among students and would run six buses a day during peak times.

Azumah said he hopes to have his line up and running by November, license or not. “We are waiting on them to come to the understanding that I’m right so that we don’t have to have a confrontation.”

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