A private van operator is “bleeding money” trying to provide transit service in Brownstone Brooklyn — part of the city’s controversial program to provide “dollar van” service along routes slashed by the MTA.
It’s been only two weeks since the Taxi and Limousine Commission launched its pilot program along the now-extinct B71 route, but operator Sulaiman Haqq said he is quickly discovering what the Metropolitan Transportation Service claimed when it closed the bus route: There aren’t enough paying customers.
“We are bleeding money,” said Haqq, whose Brooklyn Van Lines won the right to operate on the Carroll Gardens to Crown Heights route.
Haqq said he is averaging between one and four passengers during his 6 am to 10 pm shift. At $2 a fare, he doesn’t even earn enough for lunch, let alone enough to make a profit.
Haqq has implored the city to subsidize the program, but the agency will not.
“This is the reason why public transportation is subsidized,” Haqq said. “It is not profitable.”
TLC spokesman Allan Fromberg said it was “premature” to issue a death knell for the program in Brownstone Brooklyn or along the former Williamsburg-to-Manhattan B39 line or the B23, which once connected Kensington to Borough Park.
Critics complain that Haqq’s two vans are unreliable because there’s no set time schedule.
“This is what happens when you privatize public goods,” said Brad Kerr of the Columbia Waterfront Neighborhood Association. “You get vans that elderly folks, disabled folks, school kids and MetroCard users can’t rely on.”
©2010 Community News Group
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