Closing Bell: New York’s Shadow Transit Network, Dollar Vans

dollar van

Dollar vans popped up in New York City during the 1980 transit strike and they have stuck around ever since. The 13-seat vans make up a partially unofficial transit network in neighborhoods where subway and bus service is scarce. They are particularly active in Queens according to an article and interactive web feature in The New Yorker.

The writer spent a year riding the vans all across the city and found that Jamaica, Queens was the busiest dollar van hub of all. He’s created interactive maps of dollar van routes and and videos of drivers and passengers. The vans are licensed and regulated by the Taxi and Limousine Commission but illegal ones are common according to the story.

Aaron Reiss who wrote the story and created the maps wrote, “Queens is notable for how enmeshed vans have become in the borough’s transportation landscape. There are almost twice as many legal dollar vans in Queens as in Brooklyn and far fewer unlicensed, illegal vans. Vans in Queens have been afforded several loading and unloading spaces. In Queens, vans are starting to function like an official transportation system.”

Have you ever used the dollar vans? How was the experience?

New York’s Shadow Transit [The New Yorker]

Photo: Cap’n Transit Rides Again