On New York's Shadow Transportation System: 'Dollar Vans'
Aaron Reiss writes the article that accompanies an interactive feature about New York's "dollar vans, beginning with a brief history of their invention and proliferation, dating back to a transit strike in 1980.
"Today, dollar vans and other unofficial shuttles make up a thriving shadow transportation system that operates where subways and buses don’t—mostly in peripheral, low-income neighborhoods that contain large immigrant communities and lack robust public transit. The informal transportation networks fill that void with frequent departures and dependable schedules, but they lack service maps, posted timetables, and official stations or stops. There is no Web site or kiosk to help you navigate them. Instead, riders come to know these networks through conversations with friends and neighbors, or from happening upon the vans in the street."
The article consists of a series of interactive vignettes, focusing on each of the many "dollar van" lines—from a network connecting the various Chinatown communities around the city, to the Caribbean communities that power the network in Flatbush, and more. There are even several "dollar van" routes that cross the Hudson River into New Jersey via the George Washington Bridge and the Lincoln Tunnel.
[Editor's note: this article made the rounds this week on the social media discussion. It isn’t as current as submissions to the Planetizen news feed, but it was too compelling to pass up an opportunity to share. Enjoy.]