Bus Operators’ Union Decries Illegal Vans

Calls On City, State To Crack Down

Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1056 is calling on city and state agencies to work together address the problem of vans that operate illegally and unsafely in Queens and other local communities.

ATU 1056 President and Business Agent I. Daneek Miller issued the call on Thursday, Aug. 2 after, the union claims, some van operators sought an end run around recent state legislation to address the need for street hails in neighborhoods that lack access to city yellow taxis.

“Whether or not vans get licensed remains a small part of the equation,” explained Miller, who also chairs the MTA Labor Coalition. “Vans licensed and unlicensed illegally and unsafely operate along bus routes and deprive the MTA of revenue that it can re-invest in bus service.”

ATU 1056 members-bus operators and mechanics-work for MTA New York City Transit’s Queens bus division.

“In particular, NYPD, the Taxi and Limousine Commission and the MTA really need to coordinate their activities at such transit bus hubs as Parsons Archer and 179th Street Hillside,” added Miller.

Illegal commuter vans have also been spotted in Maspeth and Elmhurst; the Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET) civic group has been fighting the issue for years.

“So-called commuter vans, unreliable, often unsafe and many more times than not operating illegally, offer straphangers a dangerous alter- native to MTA bus service,” Miller said. “The woefully inadequate response to illegal, unregulated and unsafe vans allows these unsafe vans to ply bus routes, pick up passengers at bus stops and the subways, deprive the authority of revenue and reduce passenger counts that the authority uses to cut service. Their operation de facto recreates the two-fare zones we fought to eliminate.”

“Unlike the drivers such as 1056 members who operate MTA buses in Queens, these van drivers do not get training, do not find themselves subject to drug testing while they race along city streets putting all at risk,” he added. “If a vans has an operating license but operates along a bus route and picks up and discharges passengers at bus stops, it operates illegally. Few vans follow any rules. The Authority must work with NYPD and TLC, and not just intermittently, to address this safety issue.”