City Wants Dollar Vans To Replace Cut Bus Lines

In what is sure to raise the ire of many, New York City officials are looking towards dollar vans to replace bus lines recently eliminated by the MTA due to its financial crisis. Gary Buiso of The Brooklyn Paper has more in this report:

The city wants dollar vans to fill a huge gap in Brownstone Brooklyn bus service that was created by MTA service cuts last month.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission quietly approved the privatization initiative that will allow livery vans to operate along bus routes eliminated by the cash-strapped state agency — including the B71 route that once journeyed from Columbia Street through tony Carroll Gardens and Park Slope on its way to Crown Heights.
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Williamsburg’s former B39 line, which was popular with seniors and the handicapped because it went over the Williamsburg Bridge, is also included in the initiative.

Under the plan, the vans will only be allowed to pick up passengers at specified locations — but drop-offs can be at locations negotiated by the driver and commuter.

Where the rubber hits the road, not everyone is getting on board. The proposal is likely to be lambasted in neighborhoods such as Park Slope and Carroll Gardens, where the so-called “dollar vans” have not traditionally operated.

As such, civic leaders in those neighborhoods expressed fear and loathing.
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“Oh my god, it’s insane!” said Maria Pagano, president of the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association. “You’ll have guys dive-bombing in and out on Union Street between school buses.”

Even Michael Cairl, the president of the Park Slope Civic Council who was initially open to the idea, saw stepped-up van shuttles as the beginning of the end of public transportation.

“This is the beginning of a pared-down transit system, and that’s unfortunate,” he said.

The city insisted that it is not looking to privatize mass transit.

“The best outcome is a robust, healthy MTA that can provide bus service everywhere it is needed,” said David Yassky, commissioner of the Taxi and Limousine Commission. “Since we don’t have that at the moment, all we can try to do is give commuters the best set of options we can — we are not replacing the MTA.”

And van operators may not be interested in replacing the transit agency either.

“They are trying to use us, but there is nothing in it for us,” said Winston Williams, owner of Blackstreet Van Lines. “I think they’re full of it.”

Williams said the program will have too many restrictions to make it profitable, particularly the inability to pick up passengers where the driver sees fit.

Click here for the complete report.

I feel this is a horrible idea. Let me be honest here, some of these “dollar van” operators & drivers are shady. They have zero business being expected to carry passengers to their destinations due to MTA’s budget woes.

While not all drivers/operators are shady, it is pretty well known how a lot of them lack insurance, have numerous violations, license issues, etc… Should the city really be encouraging such services? This screams of a band-aid solution to cover up for their lack of helping create sustainable funding solutions for the much maligned transit agency.

I am curious to see where this proposal goes especially considering the concern of some operators. Personally if I was a legitimate operation, I would be completely suspect of the city as they probably are using me to help out their cause while leaving me out to dry in terms of making a legitimate profit.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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[…] that went down, some city leaders announced that they wanted dollar vans to replace the cut bus lines much to the chagrin of many local civil leaders. A short time letter, […]

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