Unauthorized commuter vans danger to public

After meeting with NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission, Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk, NYC Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams (center) joined Deputy Public Advocate for Infrastructure & Environmental Justice Kashif Hussain (left) and Winston Williams of Blackstreet Van Lines (right) to discuss the need for increased enforcement measures within the commuter van industry.
Office of NYC Public Advocate

Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams has called for increased enforcement against unauthorized commuter van operations after a Brooklyn cyclist was struck by an unlicensed driver on Saturday.

Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, was joined by industry advocates outside the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission’s (TLC) Manhattan office on Tuesday afternoon to address the need to utilize enforcement powers, as established, to protect the public and legitimate commuter van companies operating in good faith.

“Commuter vans are a critical component of our city’s transportation infrastructure, especially in areas underserved by the MTA, but unauthorized, often uninsured operators pose a danger to the public, as we unfortunately saw last weekend,” said Williams after meeting with the new TLC Commissioner, Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk.

“I’ve worked closely with advocates and with the TLC for years to step up enforcement while ensuring that drivers operating in good faith can safely and effectively work with the community,” he added. “I believe that the new commissioner will be a strong partner in these efforts going forward.”

The Public Advocate stressed the role that TLC plays in enforcing against unauthorized operations, as well as methods for the public to identify those who are operating in good faith.

He further urged drivers to go through the process to become authorized, a process which he said he has worked for years to help streamline, and for passengers to only ride commuter vans that have the official TLC Blue Diamond sticker displayed on the van’s window.

As a former New York City Council Member, Williams said he had passed legislation aimed at “cracking down on unauthorized, rogue commuter van operators who pose a danger to commuters, while also ensuring that licensed and insured operators can operate safely across the city, including the Commuter Van Safety Act in 2017 and a 2018 measure to close a loophole in enforcement.”

In a letter previously sent to the commissioner, Williams asked for information about current levels of enforcement, as well as how future efforts would be conducted.

During their meeting on Tuesday, Williams said he and the commissioner agreed to work together to achieve those goals.

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