Community Board 12 members recently voted down a proposal to expand an area transportation company’s van fleet, citing concerns that it would worsen existing traffic congestion. The owner is hopping mad over the decision and says that they are unfairly lumping him in with illegal van operators.
“Unfortunately, while it might serve some service to our community, I think we should kind of curtail the amount of vans that are on the road,” Transportation Committee Chairwoman Michele Keller said at the board’s meeting on Dec. 8. “There is not a lot of enforcement by TLC, DOT, and, quite frankly, our police precincts.”
Yours N’ Mine Transportation Services Inc., located at 146-28 Guy R. Brewer Blvd. in Jamaica wants to expand its van fleet by 10 vehicles, going from three to 13. The Transportation Committee unanimously voted against the application and recommended that the board do the same, and they did by a vote of 17 to 0, with three abstentions.
Both the Department of Transportation and the Taxi and Limousine Commission must approve any changes.
Gladstone Barrett, the owner of the company, was surprised and disappointed by the decision because he has been in business for 17 years and says he has had no complaints from the community.
“They are really hurting me by voting against my company,” Barrett said. “I have a crystal clean record. This is the first time I have asked them for anything and I think it’s ridiculous that they opposed it.”
Barrett believes it is the illegal van operators who are to blame for the traffic problems the board cited, since they “wreak havoc” on the road, driving up insurance rates and giving honest men like him a bad name.
“When they say there are too many vans, what vans are they talking about?” Barrett asked. “It’s the illegal vans that the mayor, and the commissioner of the TLC should be looking at and enforce the rules and regulations.”
CB 12 District Manager Yvonne Reddick says the board is considering placing a moratorium on van expansions, because the issue has gotten out of control.
“There are more vans in CB 12 than anyplace in the city,” Reddick said Wednesday. “We know which ones are legal and which ones are illegal.”
Barrett, who did not attend the board meeting, because he says he was not notified that they would be voting on his application, has built up a loyal clientele over the years and wanted to add more vans to accommodate the increasing demand for his services.
Reddick said they didn’t invite him to the meeting because there is nothing he could have said that would have convinced them that his proposal was a good idea.
“We have gotten to the point where enough is enough, Reddick said. “The board is not going to approve any additional vans.”
CB 12 First Vice Chairwoman Tracey Bowes, who abstained from the vote, disagreed stating that increasing the number of vans could be beneficial to the community especially in isolated areas where bus service is not available and along corridors where it has been reduced.
Keller countered saying late last year the committee met with van owners who were soliciting their help because they wanted to reduce the number of illegal vans on the road.
Although Yours N’Mine does not fall into that category, Keller felt it was all the more reason to deny the application because the committee has not had the opportunity to meet with the appropriate city agencies to discuss the proliferation of vans and their regulation.
“If we continue to allow these vans to increase, it will affect the number of buses we have on our bus routes,” Keller said. “A lot of seniors do not take these vans and we do not want to hurt our community.”
The DOT held a public hearing on Monday to listen to community concerns regarding the van application, but it did not make a decision by press time.
Scott Gastel, a spokesman for the agency, said the feedback they received from the community was positive, but added that it was extremely unlikely that the DOT would allow a company to double or triple its van capacity at one time. Gastel also said that the agency did not get a letter from the community board expressing its disapproval of the application.
Reddick said a letter would be sent soon and added that the DOT is well aware of its stance on van expansion from previous correspondence.