Washington, D.C.-The ill-conceived and illegal one-year moratorium on new van licenses imposed by New York’s City Council is set to expire on October 29, 1998, and according to City Council spokeswoman Bernice Spitzer, the lawmakers will not renew it. But even after this restriction is lifted, van drivers still will face excessive regulations purposefully designed to bar them from competing with public buses.
“From the start, it was clear the City Council never had the authority to impose any moratorium on issuing new licenses to van operators,” said Chip Mellor, president of the Institute for Justice, who represents van operators in their challenge to anti-competitive regulations. “Its expiration testifies to its illegitimacy.”
“The City Council knew it was illegal when they passed it. They know it is illegal today,” said Hector Ricketts, president of Queens Van Plan, who joined with the Institute in February of 1997 to challenge government-imposed van regulations that go beyond the scope of protecting public health and safety.
“Even with this moratorium lifted, the battle to earn commuter vans their rightful place in New York City’s transportation network is far from over,” Mellor said. “The law still improperly gives the City Council veto authority over all new van applications. Since 1994, 98 percent of all applicants seeking van licenses from the City Council have been denied.”
In addition, New York’s City Council severely limits the number of vans that may serve New York’s riding public, and it imposes arbitrary regulations that prohibit vans from operating on public bus routes or picking up passengers on other than a prearranged basis. Despite these restrictions, van operators carry 40,000-plus passengers each day.
Mellor concluded, “Ultimately van drivers and their customers will not be denied. All the drivers want is the opportunity to earn an honest living, but the City Council is denying them that right. It is time to let the vans roll.”