Dollar vans in downtown Jamaica will be traveling a new route that will not only make it safer for motorists who ride through the streets daily, but also pedestrians who use the vans to get home.
City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) met with several commuter van operators Dec. 14 at the corner of Archer Avenue and 153rd Street, where they can now stop and unload passengers. The councilman helped to push the city to create a new official commuter van stop at the corner in anticipation of a series of changes that are planned for the downtown area.
“We’re making progress,” he said.
Most of the vans pick up their customers from the Jamaica Center subway station at Parsons Boulevard and take them to other parts of southeast Queens. The van service has drawn more riders over the last couple of years as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has eliminated several bus routes that went to areas like Rosedale, Springfield Gardens and Laurelton.
The city Department of Transportation has announced that it will be changing the lanes in downtown Jamaica to alleviate the massive traffic jams that occur daily. In addition to adding more bus lanes on Archer Avenue between Parsons and Merrick boulevards, the city will be making 91st Avenue between 146th Street and 144th Place a one-way, westbound street.
Several of the van operators agreed to alter their routes to accommodate the changes.
The vans will be using Liberty Avenue and 153rd Street to enter Archer Avenue and will have drop-off locations at that corner.
Hector Ricketts, president of Community Transportation Systems, which operates several vans in southeast Queens, said he and his fellow drivers did not hesitate to make changes to their longtime routes.
The driver said his riders’ safety is important to him and downtown Jamaica can be hazardous sometimes.
“When you open a door, there is potential for disaster. When you pull up to a curb, it’s dangerous,” he said.
Although Ricketts said the new DOT street rules would enhance their operations, he said more needed to be done to help drivers,
He urged Comrie to get the city to crack down on illegal van drivers who steal their customers.
“They need to enforce the laws,” he said.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@c