The Taxi and Limousine Commission is cracking down on gypsy cabs and illegal dollar vans, and its enforcement team takes hundreds of unlicensed vehicles off the streets every month. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
So-called dollar vans dart along congested Flatbush Avenue in the Marine Park section of Brooklyn. For about two bucks a ride, these vans provide a quick ride through transit-starved neighborhoods.
Some of the dollar vans are legit, but many aren't. So every day, Taxi and Limousine Commission officers and NYPD officers tail rogue vans to take them off the streets.
NY1 tagged along on Friday, and not long into the trip, the officers found an unlicensed dollar van. Several women who were headed to Eastern Parkway and Utica Avenue were now stranded far from their destination.
"Everybody needs money in their pocket. So what?" said one passenger.
The women walked to the bus, and the TLC crew moved on and nabbed another unlicensed van around the corner.
"I am taking it to the staging area, if it starts," an officer said.
They drove off and prepped for the impound, and the driver was left on the curb.
"The drivers, they are going to receive two tickets. One ticket is for being unlicensed and they are going to receive a second ticket to the owner of the vehicle and they're also going to receive a seizure form," said TLC official Ron Sobers.
The seized van will eventually go to a tow lot in Williamsburg. It's just one of between 700 to 800 vehicles the TLC seizes every month.
TLC Chairman David Yassky said a licensed passenger van would have a "TLC license plate and it's got the round TLC sticker there. Then you know it's been licensed, it's a legitimate vehicle."
Yassky said this initiative is part of a new crackdown.
"We want people to provide the service, but we want them to do it with the right insurance and we want the driver to be licensed, so that the passengers can have the protection of knowing that the driver has been drug tested, has been screened for a good DMV record and screened for a criminal record," said Yassky.
So TLC officers continue to tell drivers of unlicensed vehicles to turn over the keys, write them a ticket and then send them away on foot.