Bus line franchise in jeopardy over gender segregation

(JTA) — New York City’s Department of Transportation has threatened to revoke its contract with a bus company that makes women sit in the back.

The department  sent a letter to the Private Transportation Corp., which operates the public B110 bus route under a nearly 40-year-old franchise arrangement with the city, reminding the company that requiring women to ride in the back of the bus "would constitute a direct violation of your franchise agreement and may lead to termination of that agreement." The letter said the company could not get an exemption based on religious grounds.

The letter was sent after the bus line’s segregation gained notoriety in recent days following an article in The New York World, a Columbia Journalism School publication. The New York Times, New York Post and a host of other news outlets, as well as bloggers, also publicized the story.

Signs posted inside the B110 bus ask female riders to pay the driver in the front and then board from the back door when the bus is crowded, according to The New York Times. The bus route runs between the heavily Orthodox Jewish-populated Brooklyn neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Borough Park. The bus does not run on the Jewish Sabbath.

At a news conference last week, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that segregating men and women on public buses was “obviously not permitted.”

“Private people, you can have a private bus,” the mayor said. “Go rent a bus and do what you want on it.”

 

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