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Judge OK's City's Plan to Expand Dollar Van Service

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A judge has ruled that the city can move forward with its plan to expand private van service in neighborhoods where the MTA cut bus routes.

A union representing laid-off bus drivers, Transport Workers Union Local 100, had sued the city and Taxi and Limousine Commission, arguing that the expansion would discourage the MTA from restoring service in those areas and that it violated several state and city laws.

The TLC has been soliciting applications from private van companies for special licenses to pick up riders along five now-defunct bus routes. Those routes, the B23, B71, B39, Q74 and Q79, used to service nearly 7,000 residents. While the union was suing the TLC, it also created a not-for-profit organization to compete for one of the special licenses and earlier this week, the union's lawyer said it won the right to operate vans on the old B71 line, which travels from Prospect Heights through Park Slope to downtown Brooklyn.

State Supreme Court Justice Anil Singh said because the proposed expansion was a year-long "pilot program" limited to five routes, the TLC could "depart from the regulations." The judge also said the loss suffered by laid-off bus drivers "must be balanced against the needs of the many thousands of New Yorkers" who have lost bus service.

The TLC's program is expected to start next month.