The commuter vans that have served parts of Brooklyn and Queens over the years inspired the plan’s foundation, but there are several important differences, among them the fact that the vans will pick up and drop off riders at fixed stops, rather than roaming freely as the vans now often do. The vans will also be required to carry adequate insurance and be driven by specially certified drivers, also in contrast with troublesome unlicensed vans.
At the center of the decision to create this plan is the fact that the MTA’s service cuts have left us with two choices: do nothing, or take action to provide assistance to thousands of New Yorkers. Mayor Bloomberg has made it abundantly clear that doing nothing is simply not an option, so we are taking action.
Samuelsen, the newly elected president of Transport Workers Union Local 100, takes a negative view:
The Bloomberg scheme would create an unsafe, unregulated shadow transit system, undermining New York City Transit and the MTA. It’s a tremendous mistake and an affront to every transit worker in the city. Most important, it’s clearly against the will of the people: every rider wants a clean, air-conditioned city bus rather than a seat in an unregulated dollar van.
The “dollar van” doesn’t accommodate the disabled who use wheelchairs or have the ability to “kneel” to make it easier for a senior citizen to climb on board. A “dollar van” will not pick up an elderly person with a cane, because these operators make money by moving fast, and these passengers take up time and, from their point of view, waste money.