As private van operators have sprung up to replace bus routes lost to the MTA service cuts, New York City’s Department of Transportation has waged a campaign to stop these businesses. With support from labor unions concerned about the privatization of transit services, DOT has claimed that these unregulated vans pose a serious safety threat to passengers, and the agency has gone to court to enforce its position. Yesterday, NYC DOT earned a temporary restraining order against TransportAzumah’s Joel Azumah, a fleet owner who had been operating vans along the now-defunct X25, X29, X90 and QM22 routes.
The city has until July 15 to make the case for a permanent injunction, and Azumah said he will fight the court order. He says that his $6-a-ride vans do not violate transportation laws because they are private charters outside the realm of city regulations. “My customers are very, very, very angry,” he said to the Daily News. “They had the benefit of a service that they were enjoying…We want the city – if they are going to interfere with these services – to run the buses.”
In other vans news, Yonah Freemark writing at Next American City profiles the rise of private service in New York City in the wake of the MTA’s service cuts. Freemark wonders if the city’s move to legitimize some private transportation providers will undercut labor’s position but posits that cities should ensure that people can get around cheaply and efficiently. As long as the MTA has to cut services, the private bus companies should be allowed to roll on.