Monday, April 12, 2010

TLC Continues to Ignore Unauthorized Commuter Van Activity in Western Queens

From C.O.M.E.T.:

FOIL request uncovers shocking reality

C.O.M.E.T. President Roe Daraio and members of the group are livid over the inaction of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to crack down on the unauthorized commuter van activity in Maspeth, South Elmhurst and Woodside. Daraio stated, “The lack of enforcement by TLC in our area is basically giving the green light to commuter van companies to operate outside of their authorized zones.”

Every day commuter vans prowl residential streets, pick up passengers along bus routes (currently prohibited under TLC regulations) and block intersections and residents’ driveways. According to Daraio, numerous requests to the agency to enforce their regulations have fallen upon deaf ears. She said the local precincts are sympathetic to the problem but are not trained to write many of the summonses necessary to curtail the activity. Since crime is up and the officers are needed for patrol, it is unlikely that they will be trained in the near future. What many folks find interesting is that the City has no problem summonsing a motorist who is parked at an expired parking meter, is double-parked or is dropping someone off at a bus stop, but does no enforcement of commuter van companies blatantly disobeying regulations. A crackdown would likely collect tens of thousands of dollars in revenue that the City could use during this budget crisis, not to mention improve the quality of life of the people living in neighborhoods plagued by illegally operating commuter vans.

In April 2009, C.O.M.E.T. met with TLC Commissioner Matthew Daus to discuss the lack of enforcement of commuter van regulations. Issues brought up included: companies discriminating as to whom is picked up, the lack of information about routes and destinations, why a particular route was approved or even phone numbers to contact companies to schedule rides. The meeting resulted in a few summonses being written but with no follow up. To obtain the route information, C.O.M.E.T. was told they needed to make a FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) request, and at the time of the meeting TLC claimed they didn’t even know where the authorized routes were in the area. Other complaints about the commuter vans - including reporting a licensed van that did not have any name or markings on it - went unaddressed and the activity continues today.

After FOILing the commuter van routes, C.O.M.E.T. made a startling discovery: only one commuter van company is authorized in the Community Board 4 area and that route does not encompass Elmhurst south of Queens Boulevard and does not extend into Woodside or Maspeth. That means every single commuter van operating in these areas is doing so illegally.

Daraio said, “Apparently rules were not made for everyone and the City is just allowing these companies to get away with their illegal practices with no enforcement. Instead of collecting revenue by summonsing rogue companies, it’s probably easier to just raise residents’ taxes.”


Anonymous said...

Whoever owns these illegal vans are paying someone off to keep their mouths shut. Probably dishonest politicians. Comet needs to follow the money to find out who is in on this sweet deal. Start by checking registrations on these vans and take it from there. DMV records are crucial in building a case. This is one of the reasons why the MTA has no money. I'm sure Queens isn't the only borough that has illegal vans. Time to crack down on all of them.

Anonymous said...

These vans make U-turns all day long crossing the double yellow lines. What don't the NYPD understand about writing tickets for that?

These vans are driven in an unsafe manner and stop and poach passengers at MTA bus stops. They are effectively reducing passenger ridership numbers on specific lines that are used to evaluate if the lines service are to be reduced or eliminated altogether.

They frenquently stop in front of my house and honk their horns to solicit riders. They also discriminate against non-Chinese riders.

Anonymous said...

Whoever owns these illegal vans are paying someone off to keep their mouths shut


illegal people own the illegal vans, more often than not.

Anonymous said...

Last year, I remember seeing the Chinese commuter vans with Peter Koo posters.

Anonymous said...

Not only is this a theft of services issue with the MTA, but it is also a civil rights issue. Drivers won't pick you up unless you are asian. They discriminate against white people. Can you imagine if we did this and didn't pick up asians? The Feds would be here forming a commission against discrimination already. Where are the Feds? Where is the TLC? Is anyone in charge? Guess Not!

Deke DaSilva said...

These vans also operate along Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, they've been there probably close to 20 years.

Just stand on Flatbush Avenue, wait for a large van, raise your hand. Pay $2 when you leave.

Convenient, yes. But I wouldn't want to be a passenger in one of these during an accident!

Anonymous said...

These illegal vans are certainly easy to find -- just walk up and down Calamus Avenue, but don't expect them to pick you up if you're not Chinese

Anonymous said...

They are discriminating against us, yet nothing is being done about it. Where are our local politicians? Doesn't anyone care? If it was the other way around, someone would be sued. What can we do to remedy this problem? If this continues, maybe we should have vans only for white people. Can you imagine the public outcry?

Anonymous said...

blow out the tires.. that will make them stop and call the police..

Anonymous said...

anyone care enough to do a story on New York 1?

Anonymous said...

ny 1 why would anyone have to. ny 1 can go down to calamus and do a story they don't need anyone, sit for a while and you'll see the damn vans.