NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Another Victory For Van Entrepreneurs

March 25, 1999

New York State Supreme Court Justice Louis York has ruled in favor of a group of black van owners serving largely minority communities in New York City. These entrepreneurs pick up poor people and take them to and from work and shopping in what are called "dollar vans."

Justice York said the New York City Council lacked the power to veto van licenses approved by the Taxi and Limousine Commission and could not automatically deny any application that had not been acted on in 180 days.

  • In 1993, the Council passed a law requiring van operators to prove that their services were convenient and necessary -- and then win council approval for a license.
  • The move was seen as an effort to protect the city's bus and subway systems from competition.
  • Pressure from transit unions has prevented since then all but 20 new vans from being added to New York's streets.
  • The result has been that more than 1,000 illegal vans now ply the city's streets -- serving some 40,000 riders without the city's permission.

Observers say that in the wake of Justice York's decision, the number of licensed vans should now increase sharply. The van operators were assisted in their case by the Institute for Justice, a Washington, D.C.-based law firm that fights for economic freedom for the poor.

Source: Editorial, "Who Supports Them?" Wall Street Journal, March 25, 1999.


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