The city’s plan to add “dollar vans” to bus routes abandoned by the MTA is all but dead — and the head of the city agency that spawned the ill-fated initiative admitted that it was partly his fault.
Two out of the three Brooklyn routes in the controversial pilot program have already been abandoned — just one month after the city announced the plan — and Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky admitted that he didn’t crunch the numbers well enough before pushing for private vans to take over the slashed MTA service.
“I cop to this,” Yassky told Community Board 14, where he was a guest speaker on Monday night.
The problem, Yassky said, was that there simply has not been enough customers to justify service on the former B23 and the B39 lines. But Yassky admitted that he didn’t look close enough at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s own ridership data, which revealed that only 1,580 weekday riders took the B23, which connected Kensington and Borough Park; and 1,180 used the B39, which ferried Williamsburg riders into Manhattan.
“We did it,” he said, “without looking behind the numbers.”
For example, the agency never determined how many of the bus trips were students using a bus pass, or other customers who might not want to spend $2 for a van with no free transfer to a subway or bus.
Things got off to a bumpy start on the first day of the initiative along the B23, as this newspaper waited for two hours in vain for a van.
A similar fate awaited a reporter in Williamsburg, who went looking for a van for two days and failed to find even one.
Yassky would not pronounce the program fully dead, as van service survives — barely — along the former B71, which connected Carroll Gardens to Crown Heights.
But Sulaiman Haqq, the van operator along the route, is bleeding money, and has wondered if he will be able to sustain his effort.
Two other routes survive in Queens, but Yassky said none are making money for the operators.