Laid Off MTA Bus Drivers Win Special License

When the MTA planned to eliminate a lot of bus service in all 5 boroughs due to its financial crisis, even they could have not expected all the twists & turns that would result from it. First we had persistence of 16 year old Ali Fadil reaching out to Transport Azumah to help save the QM22 via a private bus route which shortly after debuting received a restraining order to stop running.

After 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, TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen penned an editorial for The Brooklyn Paper urging people to “reject a cut-rate, “Wal-Mart” transit system that will lower safety, comfort and environmentally friendly standards.”

While I did not compare the potential dollar van service to Walmart, I did question the push for such a service considering the shady operators & drivers behind a majority of the fly by night operations out there currently. Fast forward to yesterday when the TWU won a special license to run a dollar van service in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Prospect Heights, Park Slope and downtown Brooklyn. Lisa Chow of WNYC has more:

The city’s transit union says it has won a special license to run a dollar van service in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Prospect Heights, Park Slope and downtown Brooklyn.

This comes after the union’s fierce opposition to the city’s plan to expand private van service in neighborhoods affected by the MTA bus cuts. The Transport Workers Union Local 100 represents 500 bus drivers and mechanics who were laid off because of the service cuts.

The TWU’s lawyer, Arthur Schwartz, says as the union fights the city plan in court, it also decided to submit a proposal to operate a van line.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission has been soliciting applications from van companies to operate along five now defunct bus routes in Brooklyn and Queens. This pilot program, the TLC says, is intended to give the nearly 7,000 riders of those bus routes another transportation option.

Click here for the complete report.

Personally I am not thrilled at this latest development. While it is nice to see laid off drivers finding employment, what does it really do to solve the overall problem which happens to be the funding of our mass transit system? The answer is clear in that it does nothing but provide a band-aid solution for the riders who lost their service while not addressing the current & future problems at hand.

Did John spend the last few weeks trying to secure this license instead of sitting down to continue negotiations with the MTA? If so, that is a big mistake & shows that he is not about true solutions but rather quick fixes that help his members & make him look good to them & the riding public. Now is not the time for these games as the future of our system is clearly at stake.

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