Friday, April 18, 2014

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Queens Residents Hoping For Help From Dollar Vans In Event Of Strike

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Many New Yorkers are devising their own contingency plan just in case there is a transit strike next week. As NY1's Ruschell West explains, some commuters in Queens are hoping to use dollar vans if there's a strike.

Jeremy Bettencourt lives in Glendale, but he works in New Jersey. He said, no buses and no trains would mean it would take him all day to get to work.

“I take a bus and two trains and a bus when I get to Hoboken, New Jersey through the Port Authority,” he said.

Bettencourt said he doesn't like to take the dollar vans here, but if there is a transit strike, they're better than nothing to get him started on his journey.

“I’d have to,” he said.

Belen Perez said without the buses, the vans are her only other option too.

“It's going to be hectic because there is going to be more people, and it's going to be packed,” Perez said. “But, we're not going to have a choice.”

The city allowed dollar vans operators to pick up passengers along bus routes last summer when three private bus lines in Queens went on strike. But, Tuesday, some van operators say they don't have room for bus and subway riders.

“If there is a strike we will try to do our best,” said van operator Carmen Grant. “But we are not making any plans because we know we cannot manage the people from the MTA.”

So far, the city's contingency plan does not include dollar vans picking up passengers at bus stops. But there are plans in place to help Queens commuters get around the city. Those plans include carpooling.

However, private vehicles with less than four passengers will be prohibited from traveling through the Queens Midtown tunnel and over the Queensboro Bridge on weekdays. That rule would drop down to two passengers on weekends.

The same would apply to taking the Grand Central Parkway to and from the Queens Midtown Tunnel. There would be carpool staging areas at Flushing Meadows, Alley Pond Parks and Shea Stadium.

There will also be expanded ferry service from Hunters Point in Long Island City to 34th Street and Wall Street. And don't forget, if you park your car, no standing rules will be expanded on major routes during peak hours.

Queens resident Barbara Smith said she carpooled with her friends from Parkchester in the Bronx to Rego Park during the 1980 transit strike. She said she wouldn’t be so fortunate this time around.

“All my friends I use to ride with are all retired,” Smith said. “So I hope they don't strike.”

--Ruschell West
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