dollar van n. In New York City and Long Island, privately owned multi-passenger vehicles that operate along regular routes.
Automotive. English. NYC. In manner of operation, dollar vans are similar to por puestos in South America, tap-taps in Haiti, and matatus in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Dollar vans sometimes charge more than a dollar. Though once illegal, many are now licensed by the city.
[1993 Newsday (N.Y.) (Mar. 15) "Cops, Sanit Worker Rescue 18 From Sinking Vehicles" p. 18: In all, 13 commuters were pulled from the rented Dollar van—12 passengers between the ages of 15 and 65 years and a 7-month-old girl.] 1993 Russell Ben-Ali Newsday (N.Y.) (Dec. 20) "Van Hits Queens Boy Leaving Church" p. 32: "Witnesses told us it was a dollar van," said one officer, referring to one of the privately owned livery vans that carry passengers along Linden Boulevard for a $1 fare.
The Bus Unit is the primary unit enforcing regulations regarding illegal activities by commuter vans (the so-called "dollar vans") throughout the city. These vans not only deprive the Transit Authority and bus companies of revenue, but cause congestion by obstructing traffic in bus lanes and bus stops, and frequently endanger passengers by having unlicensed drivers and uninspected and uninsured vehicles. Bus Unit enforcement includes seizures and summonses under the provisions of NYC Local Law 115 (the "Commuter Van Law"), which carry stringent fines and penalties that dissuade repeated offenses. Unsafe driving and parking violations along bus routes are also addressed through appropriate enforcement actions.
17 November 1997, New York Daily News, "Dollar Vans Still Rolling," pg. 1:
The dollar van industry in Brooklyn continues to thrive, despite the free-transfer MetroCard on public transit and a City Council moratorium on new applications for van licenses.
Van drivers, both legal and illegal, concede that the MetroCard, which put an end to two-fare zones in the city, has cost them some riders. Some people who once used vans to complete their trip after a subway ride can now transfer free to a city bus, for example.
But van operators insist there are plenty of fares for both the city buses and the light, swift passenger vans.
There is no question that the van business is still booming along the congested Flatbush Ave. corridor.
The Dollar Vans are some kind of SUV vehicles that were used to transport passengers from one place to another. It has a large interior to accommodate a number of passengers. It has big tires to support the load. This dollar van is really popular back in the day.