More than 5,000 riders in Brooklyn and Queens who lost bus service this past summer due to MTA cuts will now be able to ride private vans along their old routes.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission has issued licenses to five van companies to pick up passengers along the old B71, B39, B23, Q74 and Q79 bus lines. The service is part of a year-long pilot program and starts Monday.
"The MTA is in the middle of a very difficult fiscal time," says TLC Commissioner David Yassky. "They just are not in the position today to provide all the service that's needed in the city. So we're trying to pick up the slack."
The Transport Workers Union, which represents 500 bus drivers and mechanics who were laid off because of the MTA service cuts, has been fighting the city and TLC, arguing that the pilot program turns over a portion of the public transit system to private van companies that are less regulated, less safe and that employ people at low wages, without health insurance. The union lost a court battle against the city and TLC this summer but is currently appealing the judge's decision to allow the pilot program to move forward.
The licensed private vans are required to pick up passengers at designated locations but can drop off passengers anywhere in the service area. Yassky said because of the MTA service cuts, the TLC wanted to give riders another transportation option.
"It certainly is different from the buses they're familiar with, so we will see if passengers want to make that leap or not."
MAPS OF TLC LICENSED GROUP VAN ROUTES
Fares are $2.00, and each line has buses running on various schedules. Passengers are picked up at designated stops and drop offs must be arranged with the driver. The TLC's licensed vans must display the logo on the left.
Flatbush Ave. and New Utrecht Ave.
Monday-Friday 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Greenpoint, Brooklyn and Union Square.
Monday-Friday 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 6 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Kew Gardens and Queens College
Monday-Friday 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Little Neck Station and Jamaica Avenue
Monday-Friday 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Red Hook and Crown Heights
Everyday 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.