It’s not exactly the Hamptons’ Jitney, but Mario’s van has become this summer’s hot ride for Upper East Siders commuting to Wall Street.
“Dollar” vans, long popular on Brooklyn’s Flatbush and Utica avenues or in subway-less stretches of Eastern Queens, ferrying riders for a quick (and often illegal) buck have been undergoing a boom in the wake of MTA cuts. Since the elimination of the X90 express bus last month, dozens of Upper East Siders have been squeezing into Mario’s for the $5 ride to Financial District jobs.
But the largely underground dollar van industry (most charge $2) has been attracting more attention from authorities. The city already shut down TransportAzumah vans along the X90 route and two other axed bus lines, saying the company wasn’t authorized. The titans of Wall Street, applauding private enterprise for stepping in where the MTA has failed, want the city to step aside.
“I prefer the bus — it’s far more comfortable, there were seat belts; there weren’t broken armrests,” said Delia Peters, an attorney, who takes the 15-minute ride to 74th Street on Mario’s, which the Taxi and Limousine Commission said was legit. “But this is a service that’s preferable to anything else that’s being offered. The city is stranding passengers.”
“There is definitely demand,” said Joel Azumah, of TransportAzumah. “Com-muters along general corridors have been abandoned.”