From the NY Times:
Commuter vans are a familiar sight in many city neighborhoods, linking parts of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx not served by subway lines to subway stations and also to the financial district in Manhattan and to a large mall in Nassau County. The routes, which are defined by the city’s Transportation Department, are meant to supplement the public transit system, not compete with it, though that is not always the case.
There are nearly 300 van drivers in New York who abide by the rules, paying thousands of dollars a year in licensing fees and insurance. They are outnumbered by hundreds of drivers who work the same routes, but have no permits and no insurance, and whose numbers have increased as the economy has soured.
Beyond a financial threat, their legal competitors say the unlicensed van drivers are a growing safety menace. “They’ll run red lights, they’ll drive against traffic, they’ll cut you off,” said Gregory McDonald, 43, who has been a licensed van driver in Queens for 12 years.