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Mayor de Blasio Announces Expanded Crackdown Against Illegal Activity Around Battery Park

October 8, 2019

Department of Transportation orders tour companies operating non-permitted bus stops to cease operations; NYPD continues to commit resources to ensure safety

NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio today announced expanded efforts to curb the proliferation of companies and ticket sellers, primarily in and around Battery Park, that mislead tourists and operate buses to tours in New Jersey without permits. This afternoon, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) is sending cease and desist letters to Freedom Cruises and Sphinx Transport, two companies believed to be operating non-permitted bus stops in Lower Manhattan. The NYPD has enforced against ticket sellers who are intimidating and misleading tourists in the area surrounding Battery Park.  The result of these enforcement efforts has been a decline in the number of unlawful ticket sellers in the area.  The NYPD continues to commit resources to sustain and expand upon these enforcement gains.

“The Statue of Liberty is an enduring symbol of the promise of the America,” said Mayor de Blasio.  “Tourists and visitors have been taken for a ride, and it’s unacceptable.  We won’t let up until illegal and deceitful practices are a thing of the past.” 

In addition to cracking down on these bus stops, agencies continue to crack down on sellers and companies who harass or mislead customers. Only one company, Statue Cruises, has access to Liberty Island, but vendors from other companies often sell tickets for boat rides that only provide views of the Statue without notifying customers they won’t actually stop on the island. The multi-agency effort involving the NYPD, the Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Consumer & Worker Protection (DCWP), NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and the Department of Parks & Recreation (Parks) includes:

NYPD Enforcement: The NYPD maintains high visibility posts in the areas where vendors interact with customers, conducts joint operations with the State and City Departments of Transportation to issues summonses to buses in violation of rules and regulations, and will continue to work with fellow law enforcement and city agencies to address the matter. The NYPD reports all arrests and summonses relating to ticket sales to the city's Economic Development Corporation. The NYPD also works with the Manhattan District Attorney's office, whose prosecutors have briefed officers on law pertaining to ticket sales. The NYPD distributes flyers to tourists providing them with valid information about ticket sales in and around Battery Park and encourages customers to ask tour operators specific questions about their trips.

NYC Economic Development Corporation ban: NYC EDC has barred companies that use city berths from utilizing street ticket sellers and works with the NYPD to enforce this ban.

Department of Consumer and Worker Protection rules: DCWP is finalizing rules that require ticket sellers to disclose on tickets for trips to Statue of Liberty that the trip does not land on Ellis Island. DCWP is also reviewing recommendations from the public comment period including for ticket sellers to disclose that the trip does not land on Liberty Island.  DCWP will work with NYPD and Parks to fine ticket sellers that misrepresent the destination of their trip or do not include the required disclosure. The rules also prohibit sellers from representing that a tour or trip includes any destination that it actually does not go to, and prohibits sellers from misrepresenting that a consumer must pay for a tour that is otherwise available for free. DCWP is also exploring legal options against companies that take advantage of visitors and residents.

NYC Department of Parks and Recreation signs and kiosk: NYC Parks is increasing signage and working to activate an unused portion of a concession building near the Staten Island Ferry Terminal to be used as an additional ticket kiosk, increasing New Yorkers ability to purchase tickets from authorized vendors.

The Administration continues to hold active discussions between agencies, elected officials and stakeholders on these issues.

"We've built a multifaceted strategy that is broader than a simple enforcement plan," said Captain Angel L. Figueroa, Jr., the commanding officer of the First Precinct. "We're sharing information, working with the community and our business and elected leaders and other city agencies, and it is starting to show positive results."

“Very few tourists would visit New York City and knowingly get on a boat to see the Statue of Liberty that does not even take them to Liberty Island,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “After all, tourists who don’t want to visit Liberty Island itself can always hop on the Staten Island Ferry—where incredible views of Liberty Island can be enjoyed, entirely for free.”   

“After receiving repeated reports that third party ticket sellers were engaged in aggressive practices fraudulently promoting tours to the Statue of Liberty, NYCEDC took action by terminating docking permits for those using street ticket sellers,” said NYCEDC President and CEO James Patchett. “NYCEDC will continue to cooperate with NYPD, NYC Parks, and other agencies to address the issue.”

“Our new proposed rules will protect consumers – especially tourists – even more from predatory ticket sellers, said DCWP Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “We will also continue to work with our sister agencies to ensure tourists and New Yorkers alike are safe when traveling through Battery Park and buying tickets from the city’s ticket sellers.”

“Errant ticket sellers in The Battery are disruptive to the parkgoing experience for millions of visitors each year. We continue to work collaboratively with The Administration and sister agencies to address these deceptive practices. In addition to our ongoing enforcement efforts, we are finalizing plans that incorporate new sales kiosk, way-finding signage, greater presence and other measures to drive awareness for those looking to visit Statue of Liberty,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP.  

“It is good news that New York City is convening a multi-agency to crackdown on illegal ticket sellers at the Battery,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler.  “I have long decried the unfortunate situation where unsuspecting tourists are being scammed by unscrupulous and aggressive ticket hawkers and being sold tickets that actually don’t take them to Statue of Liberty.  It is our job as public officials to ensure that those who visit our City come away with a positive experience and truly appreciate what is one of the world’s most recognizable landmarks and an enduring symbol of freedom and democracy throughout the world.”

“We will continue the effort to end any and all criminal behavior to stay a step ahead of illegal tour boat operators and hawkers. This is an important effort on a long-standing problem,” said Borough President James Oddo. “Thank you to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer for being a wonderful partner in city government and to NYPD, DCWP, NYC EDC, and NYC Parks for working with us to enforce this crackdown to detour criminal actions.”

Senator Brian Kavanagh, who represents Lower Manhattan and Liberty Island, said, “Far too many people have witnessed or been on the receiving end of aggressive vendors in Battery Park who are hawking tickets for buses and boat tours that are illegal or pretend to offer a service to customers that they can’t deliver. We need to drive out these bad actors who prey on people who want to enjoy the sights of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.  I commend Mayor Bill de Blasio for initiating a multi-agency effort to tackle this deceitful, disruptive behavior, as well as Borough Presidents Gale Brewer and James Oddo and Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou for bringing attention to the issue and joining the push for solutions.”

“I am encouraged to see the continued cooperation of city agencies to further ratchet up the pressure on these bad actors. My hope is that the communication between the city and the Community that lead to this breakthrough is replicated across a number of other issues that our district faces every day,” said Anthony Notaro, Chair of Manhattan Community Board 1.

"The Statue of Liberty is a beacon of hope. New Yorkers and visitors to New York deserve a safe, honest and welcoming introduction to this magnetic symbol of our nation's best," said Jessica Lappin, President of the Alliance for Downtown New York. "Unscrupulous sellers and operators poise more than an annoyance, they are a meaningful threat to the safety and well-being of those who want to visit the statue and how our city is perceived around the world. This multi-agency initiative is a great step towards providing the kind of consistent pressure and enforcement we need to turn this problem around.  We applaud City Hall for recognizing the importance of this issue and taking meaningful action."

“I’ve been fighting to get these exploitative ticket sellers out of Battery Park for years,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Which is why Staten Island Borough President Oddo and I convened a meeting with city agencies this summer to come up with some solutions. I’m glad to see the de Blasio administration is now on board, and I look forward to working with them on a sensible solution to  this problem.”
 
"The Battery Conservancy welcomes the City's coordinated response to the problem of illegal and fraudulent roaming ticket sellers. Visitors to The Battery and to the Statue should enjoy harbor and history without being accosted and threatened." Warrie Price, president of The Battery Conservancy.


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