Miss the B71 Bus? Take a Van! (It's Cheaper, Too)

Brooklyn Van Lines picks up where the MTA left off.

When the B71 bus route was eliminated last year, many residents found themselves in a troublesome transit situation.

But luckily, a local van service has stepped up to fill in the transportation gap.

As part of a pilot program that was implemented by the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), Brooklyn Van Lines is serving the same route that was eliminated, picking up riders at the corner of Union and Columbia streets, and making various stops before ending at Bedford Avenue and Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, before looping back around.

"TLC was just looking for people to fill in the spots and we stepped in," said Sulaiman Haq, President of Brooklyn Van Lines. "We had primarily served the Flatbush area beforehand, but it takes us five minutes to get to this area and we figured it was worth seeing if there would be enough interest."

The routes begin at the corner of Union and Columbia streets on weekdays at 7:55 a.m. and 9:15 a.m. The service not only stops at popular locations including Prospect Park and Carroll Gardens Library, but has become a lifesaver for many who use the service to get to work every day.

"It's taken at least 20 minutes off my commute each way," said Carroll Gardens resident Robin Anderson, who began using the service in January. "The only option before this was to either switch buses, or just use one and take a rather long walk from there to my job, which just wasn't convenient during the winter."

Perhaps most surprising about the service is that while the MTA has drastically raised their prices, Brooklyn Van Lines has managed to keep theirs the same. A single van ride costs $2, which is cheaper than a trip on the subway.

Haq said keeping prices low is essential to building business in the area.

"We were getting pressure to raise prices, but I said that we're in hard times and people don't have that kind of money," said Haq. "We would be putting ourselves out of business very quickly."

Although Haq said that business is slower simply because of the warmer weather, he has noticed repeat business throughout the neighborhood and a demand beginning to slowly build up.

Perhaps the biggest downfall of Brooklyn Van Lines is their lack of publicity and web presence. Without a website or posted schedule to be found, potential passengers must call one of the drivers, Osmond, directly on his cell phone to schedule a pick-up time.

"When you see them coming down the street, it looks like a commercial van," said Kim Yee, a frequent passenger on Brooklyn Van Lines. "A lot of people aren't aware that they are offering this service, so they need to publicize themselves more."

Haq said they are in the process of putting together a website and also looking to add more vans and additional stops starting in September, but it will ultimately come down to local consumers as to whether or not Brooklyn Van Lines continues to stay in the neighborhood.

"TLC asked me if I wanted to remove the service for the neighborhood, but I told them that I couldn't decide that," said Haq. "They have to ask the passengers that."


Call Osmond at: (347) 526-9504

Natalie Musumeci July 01, 2011 at 02:35 PM
I go to school at Brooklyn College and they are ALL over driving super fast with as many people as they can fit in one van. Everyone knows "Brooklyn Van Lines" as "Dollar Vans," at least around the Flatbush area.
Georgia Kral July 01, 2011 at 04:12 PM
Yep! And now the dollar van, well, the 2 dollar van, runs through Columbia Street and Carroll Gardens!
Beverly D July 02, 2011 at 05:53 PM
I would like to know-if other than the Columbia Street-hicks - stop- if these vans are going to go -Union Street- going towards 3rd Avenue - Since, many of the seniors have been seeing signs staked into the concrete- by the B71 stop- that every half hour starting fro 8:30 am - 8 pm Now, if these vans are running along this route- up to the avenue- this will many worker as well as senior- since they need to get to their doctors, recreational places, shopping,etc., but, if they have to wait and stand there for long periods, waiting for a $2.00 van that will not be coming??? THIS IS VERY UNFAIR. Can someone verify that these vans will stop also at Union street- riding up the same routes as did the B71 Please email me melodysrepcorner@earthlink.net It seems with alll the emails to our Assemblywoman Millman- to other politicians - no one has any idea of these VANS OR THEIR SCHEDULES??
Richard Kresler July 02, 2011 at 09:27 PM
Good to know about this. Could use, but are there only two a day. Where to call get the schedule? Will they stop at Garden/ Museum. Thanks/
Beverly D July 03, 2011 at 05:47 AM
i do not know- if there are only two buses running- yes it would be great-if these vans drove to Brooklyn Museum as well as the Botanical garden? i do not know- What can two vans do??? we need them to run every half hour- fro 8:30 am- 8 pm
landlord69 July 05, 2011 at 01:32 PM
let's make some noise & get the 71 back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Frederick Fooy July 05, 2011 at 02:28 PM
The dollar vans are yet another symptom of the City shirking away from responsibilities. The MTA gauged B71 ridership on a 24-hour basis without taking heed to the amount of riders during peak hours. This led to the B71 having - in the eyes of the MTA - a very limited amount of riders per day, and it was deemed to be underutilized. The MTA also relied on the amount of swipes when compiling ridership, so young children were not included. The dollar vans are not wheelchair accessible, and they cannot accommodate strollers. Also, you obviously cannot transfer to MTA with a dollar van fare. Having dollar vans replacing the only link over the Gowanus between Atlantic Avenue and 9th Street is simply not sufficient.
Beverly D July 05, 2011 at 03:54 PM
Unfortunately, what all of us think-doesnt concern the MTA-since i have emailed them numerous times , No one has any knowledge about these dollar vans - nor does our Assemblywoman Millman's office. Nor is anyone looking into this matter? We needed to have a replaced line- we dont have it- no one is doing anything about it- its ashame- that- these vans- are not wheelchair accessible and cannot accommodate strollers or grocery carts.. Seniors need their grocery carts to lean on- They need transportation to go to medics,recreational areas, shopping,etc. So, do others for work- for traveling Brooklyn Museum or Botanical Gardens,etc If we would all email - Assemblywoman, our Boro President Markowitz, MTA - as we did- some two years ago- with 800 signatures-between the B71 and the B75 lines.


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