To clarify what's in the works, livery vans are going to be a completely new service, not an expansion of the existing commuter van program. Currently-licensed commuter vans operate within specific geographic areas, but lack defined routes, according to a spokesperson for the Taxi and Limousine Commission. Livery vans, in contrast, would travel between fixed pick-up and drop-off spots, though drivers would be able to take any route they choose between them. Drivers would also be allowed to drop off passengers at locations of their choice, he said, not just at fixed stops.
The fares are likely to be $2, with longer rides costing up to $4, according to media reports, and there won't be free transfers to MTA subways and buses. "The issue here is not whether it’s more expensive or less expensive; it’s whether the service exists or not," said Bloomberg at Tuesday's press conference.
Transit advocates expressed guarded praise for the plan, noting that a detailed proposal was still forthcoming. "Providing new options like this is part of providing for a car-free lifestyle," said Transportation Alternatives' Noah Budnick. The Straphangers Campaign's Gene Russianoff also believed that livery vans could help improve mobility for New Yorkers, if implemented appropriately.
In order to make the livery van pilot successful, it's being accompanied by a major enforcement push. The TLC will target unlicensed vans, unlicensed drivers, and licensed vehicles working outside the the bounds of authorized activities, said the agency spokesperson. The idea is that illegal vans, not subject to safety and insurance requirements, would undercut the more tightly regulated livery service.
But from there, the picture becomes less clear. Read more...