A group of van company owners and drivers is protesting a proposal to move their drop-off and pick-up spot from a busy part of Parsons Boulevard between Jamaica and Archer avenues to 153rd Street.
It's really only a block or two away, but the van operators say the proposed location is dark, desolate and unsafe. They argue the move will be bad for business and customers.
Regardless of where you stand on the move, it's become a reality that commuter vans have become a major piece of the transportation puzzle for communities underserved by public transportation, which far too often overlaps with communities of color.
The rides are cheap and reliable.
Vans in southeast Queens and along Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn are a common site, whether as an affordable – and sometime only - option to get around the neighborhood or as a vital link to other forms of transportation, such as MTA buses, the subway or Long Island Railroad.
They are also a link between the Chinatowns in Flushing, Sunset Park and Manhattan.
The city has done a decent job or recognizing that these entrepreneurs are providing an important service and filling a hole in the transportation system that exist either because of lacking infrastructure or budget shortfalls.
Over the years, city agencies attempted to regulate the industry, but more should be done to recognize the important part they play in moving residents around the city.
We're not sure if the move in Jamaica will kill the industry there, but any move that works to stifle it, whether that be in Flushing or on Flatbush, is a move that should be avoided.