Commuter minibus wars are heating up in Sunset.
The most recent skirmish centers around an alleged assault of an employee of one company by an employee of another, competing one.
So contentious is the situation that local bus company, J&HE Transportation Inc., which drives its passengers from Sunset Park to Chinatown in Manhattan, held a press conference on Friday, September 4 to discuss its battle to keep a parking spot located on the corner of Eighth Avenue and 59th Street that its owners claim has been theirs since 2008.
According to employees of the company, competitor Old Car Service Inc. has been parking in their spot without permission, along with making threats to the company.
“Since 2008, we had an oral agreement with the local police precinct to park here,” said Assistant CEO Weber Leung, however acknowledging the agreement was not made in writing. “But they’re trying to kick us out and take over. Recently, our company dispatcher has received numerous threats. ”
On Tuesday, September 1, the situation got physical, according to Leung and the company’s CEO Jian Wei He, who claimed that one of their dispatchers was assaulted and pushed to the ground by an employee for the competitor over an argument about the parking spot.
“He was beaten badly,” Leung added. “We have a complaint on file with the 72nd Precinct.”
However, according to the NYPD press office, based on the information provided, there was no formal complaint on file regarding the altercation.
Leung also claimed that his company is legal because its vehicles have a NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC License) while Old Car Service Inc. does not. “They are illegal cars,” he asserted
A representative of Councilmember Carlos Menchaca was in attendance to observe the situation. Although he didn’t comment directly, he read a statement that he had sent him via text message.
“I want to thank Weber Leung for organizing the community around this issue. Like any claim of this nature, we are taking it very seriously,” Menchaca said in the statement. “I ask that the claimants check in with my office immediately, and we will make sure that the appropriate government agencies are engaged, and responsive to the incident to fullest extent. Without a full understanding of the details, we are limited in our ability to deal with the events, but we are eager to work with the involved companies, the NYPD and the TLC to do right by our community. Safety is a central tenet of our work, and I will continue to work with you all to reach this goal. ”
Part of the issue is that, currently, there is no official commuter minibus stop in Sunset Park like there is in Manhattan.
“This is arguably the largest Chinatown in the city and I don’t know the history of the vans but if you see all the people around it, people need it,” said one Sunset Park resident. “And it should be more organized. Chinatown in Manhattan feeds into Brooklyn. Why doesn’t Brooklyn have one? Because there are no regulations and no official stop, sometimes maybe drivers or companies start jumping lines or jumping wherever they can to get customers. It’s unfair.”
By press time, Old Car Service Inc. had not responded to a request for comment.