Commuter Vans Rescue the Riding Public

Institute for Justice · May 13, 1998

Washington, D.C.­ In the face of the strike by New York City taxicabs, which stranded large segments of the riding public, the Giuliani Administration has called upon commuter vans to fill the void. Commuter vans from Queens and Brooklyn are mobilizing to serve the airports and other key transportation sites, making sure that New Yorkers and countless people visiting the city can get to where they need to go.

“Once again the commuter vans have been asked to save the day, and we’re happy to meet this challenge on short notice,” said Hector Ricketts, president of the 53-van Queens Van Plan, Inc., and president of the Interborough Alliance for Community Transportation. “Our ability to answer the Mayor’s call is further proof that we are equipped, ready, and able to provide safe, reliable, cost-effective transportation.”

This is not the first time vans have come to the rescue when protected transportation services have gone on strike. In the early 1980s, hundreds of vans kept transportation from grinding to a halt in the face of a massive public transit strike. They have remained a vibrant presence in the transportation network ever since. Unfortunately, state and city laws outlaw just the sort of entrepreneurship that New York is depending upon today.

“For too long the City Council, at the behest of the transit workers union, has made it impossible for vans to take their rightful place in the New York City transportation network,” said Chip Mellor, president and general counsel of the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm representing Ricketts in a lawsuit challenging New York’s protectionist laws that stifle commuter van entrepreneurs. “It’s time to remove the laws and regulations that shackle vans just to protect the public transit monopoly.”