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  1. Jan 2017
    1. Dollar vans can be particularly attractive to non-English speaking immigrants as they're often operated and ridden by members of particular ethnic communities.

      launguage is is a big thing

    2. Since 1994, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission has been issuing permits to dollar vans. There are 481 licensed dollar vans in the city, although there are many, many more estimated to be operating.

      market size. published in 2014

    1. “In places where the MTA can't provide good service, you're always going to see entrepreneurs coming out, and they will provide service,” Paaswell said. “The question is, are there other ways you can serve the same need and not have people at risk?”

      good question

    2. Goldwyn estimates the average annual salary of a dollar van driver to be $40,000. Of course, this is without the benefits that MTA transit workers get through their unions. There’s no health care, no formal sick days, no pensions. If a driver doesn’t show up, he doesn’t get paid

      business model

    1. In the aftermath of a winter storm in 2005, with few buses running, the cops normally charged with ticketing dollar vans encouraged them to help New Yorkers get around.


    2. In terms of innovation, ridesharing apps represent future technology while dollar vans are a throwback. Uber and Lyft offer a new way to hail a ride, and Uber’s $3.5 billion valuation partially represents its potential to, say, partner with Google’s self-driving car technology to produce self-driving taxis. Dollar van drivers hope to make a decent living by making a few hundred bucks from a particularly productive shift. 

      relative size of oppt. competition?

    3. Another source of opposition is New York’s Transit Workers Union. In 2010, John Samuelsen, who represents the city’s thousands of bus and subway drivers, asked New Yorkers in an op-ed to oppose the “Wal-Martization of transit” and described support for dollar vans as “a union-busting agenda in the sheep’s clothing of economic empowerment.” Notably, when New York experimented with sanctioning a line of vans to provide service to bus routes discontinued by the city, it gave the permits to the laid off MTA workers, who remained part of the union.

      growth may find powerful oppoition in unions

    1. City buses are slowed down further by the lack of all-door boarding and well-enforced bus lanes. “There’s a serious degree of policy inattention to operating the bus system in an effective way,” says Jon Orcutt of TransitCentre, a research group. Investment is much lower than in the subway, which carries 5.7m riders daily and commands $14.2 billion from the MTA’s five-year capital plan. Buses, which carry 2.1m riders daily, get just $2 billion. As long as the city neglects its buses, dollar vans will be there to mind the gap.

      is there a policy shift that might impact this market?

    2. Dollar vans—even the 480 licensed ones—have been operating more or less illegally for decades. An estimated 500 more operate unlicensed.

      number of vans

    3. Without street hails there would be no business.

      regulation v business model

    4. the street-hail prohibition goes ignored


    5. Technically dollar vans can accept only pre-arranged calls and must maintain a passenger list.


    6. With an estimated 125,000 daily riders, they constitute a network larger than the bus systems in some big cities, including Dallas and Phoenix.


    1. You might want to know why, exactly, jitneys or dollar vans are illegal in most states. The answer lies in the history of public transit. Until the early 1950s, most transit systems in the U.S. were privately owned companies that operated as regulated monopolies (like electric utilities today) and expected to provide transit service to an entire city. In exchange, they got the right to be the city's only transit service. Transit ridership peaked during World War II, but the transit companies slid into bankruptcy afterwards, as they were expected to serve greater suburban areas, service declined, and more and more federal money went into highways -- all of which tempted people to buy cars and abandon the trolleys and buses. Most of the country's 200 private transit franchises died in the 1950s. (Roger Rabbit had nothing to do with it. I swear.) In the late 1950s, cities took over the bankrupt transit lines and tried to make a go of them, retaining for themselves the monopoly on the right to provide service. In the early 60s the feds became involved in propping those systems up, but without much enthusiasm. Meanwhile, private transit were prevented from driving the streets even when they offered serviced different from the public transit agencies.


    2. the pink cellphone ad on the van is both an attempt to make a little money as he cruises up and down Flatbush, and a trial balloon to see whether there's a specific law prohibiting advertising on the vans.

      business model

    3. This is the paradox of Winston's work: While he is fully licensed, insured, and inspected, his vans are prohibited from doing the one thing they really do -- picking up passengers off the street.

      interesting challenge

    4. he accrued fines that ate into profits


    5. If this sounds improbable, it's really not: Think of the incredible popularity of food trucks, which were known as "roach coaches" only 10 years ago. A hip fleet of dollar vans, providing proximity and cheap transit to 20-somethings, could easily catch on. If the vans ran on cleaner engines -- hybrids or natural gas -- they could be part of a greener city.

      another way to think of market and benefits. though not practical

    6. And for regular riders, there are other perks. "I've heard they offer more services -- for example, they'll wait while a parent walks a child up to the door of daycare or a school." That is service that you can't get from a bus.

      also can be more curtious

    7. e's found that on some corners there are four city buses an hour and 45 to 60 vans, meaning that passengers literally don't have to wait more than a minute for a ride. Also, the vans can be a lot faster than public transit.

      sounds like they are already pretty efficient. so what pain is left to solve for commuter?

    8. t $2 a ride, he needs to get 14 people in the van on the 5.6 mile trip from downtown Brooklyn to King's Highway to turn a profit. The cost of licensing, insuring, staffing, and fueling the eight vans in his fleet is considerable.

      business model

    9. America's 20th largest bus service -- hauling 120,000 riders a day -- is profitable and also illegal. It's not really a bus service at all, but a willy-nilly aggregation of 350 licensed and 500 unlicensed privately-owned "dollar vans" that roam the streets of Brooklyn and Queens, picking up passengers from street corners where city buses are either missing or inconvenient. The dollar van fleet is a tantalizing demonstration of how we might supplement mass transit to include privately-owned mini-transit entrepreneurs, giving people alternative ways to get around, and creating jobs.


    1. “Let’s say things happens, like an accident, some of them will run off,” said Winston Williams, who owns a licensed commuter van. “And it hits the media, it’s a dollar van.”

      licensed vans vs unlicensed dollar vans

    1. This included increased monitoring and enforcement, and heightened participation by the public in identifying poor drivers,[26] as jitneys had been exempt from regulations imposed on buses and other forms of transportation.

      would ratings help here?

    2. On July 30, 2013 an accident occurred at 56th Street and Boulevard East in West New York, New Jersey, in which Angelie Paredes, an 8-month-old North Bergen resident, was killed in her stroller when a full-sized[23] jitney bus belonging to the New York-based Sphinx company toppled a light pole.

      first accident im reading of

    3. Claims have also been made that jitneys cause congestion and undermine licensed bus service.[21] Drivers of these vans have also developed a reputation for ignoring traffic laws in the course of competing for fares, picking up and dropping off passengers at random locations, and driving recklessly

      could tracking prove otherwise?

    4. Hudson County commuters who prefer NJ Transit buses, for example, cite senior citizen discounts and air conditioning among their reasons, which has led some jitney operators to display bumper stickers advertising air conditioning aboard their vehicles in order to lure passengers.

      ah. better features and promos in the public vehicle

    5. Travelers cite safety, comfort, reliability and cost as factors in choosing larger bus service over jitneys.

      so whats the advantage that is promoted elsewhere?

    6. The New York City-area dollar van system is highly used, and in 2011, it was rated the 20th most used "bus system" in the United States.[6] The dollar van and jitney system has been praised as "quietly disruptive" as compared to other ride-share services, such as Uber. This has allowed the vans to operate without being restricted by the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC)

      would apps enable increase usage and therefore disrupt this?

    1. Peert and Gomes told me that drivers typically bring in a hundred and fifty to two hundred dollars per day from fares.


    2. Because the New Jersey shuttles travel interstate, they technically fall under federal jurisdiction.

      Trump risk?

    3. “The M.T.A. buses withdrew their service because they said the downed trees weren’t safe for the buses. You know, we were smaller, so we were able to travel to and from.”

      partnership w the city?

    4. The Chinese language can be a source of comfort for van passengers. But when Chinatown drivers of larger buses run afoul of the New York State Department of Transportation, language barriers—a Chinese-speaking driver, an English-speaking cop—can add to the drivers’ troubles. One state citation reads, “Driver cannot read or speak the English language sufficiently to respond to official inquiries.”

      language as double edged swored

    5. The vans can cut the transit time between these areas in half—the direct trip from Chinatown to Flushing takes about thirty-five minutes, compared to roughly an hour and ten minutes by subway—making regular commutes and social visits possible and allowing these insulated enclaves to stay connected.

      more time efficient than subway

    6. four hundred and eighty-one licensed ones.

      size of market in NY

    7. they lack service maps, posted timetables, and official stations or stop

      why hasnt anyone built this yet?

    8. n 1980, when a transit strike halted buses and subway trains throughout New York’s five boroughs, residents in some of the most marooned parts of the city started using their own cars and vans to pick people up, charging a dollar to shuttle them to their destinations. Eleven days later, the strike ended, but the cars and vans drove on, finding huge demand in neighborhoods that weren’t well served by public transit even when buses and trains were running. The drivers eventually expanded their businesses, using thirteen-seat vans to create routes in places like Flatbush, Jamaica, Far Rockaway, and downtown Brooklyn.

      30 year old industry