CROWN HEIGHTS — There’s no such thing as a free ride — except for lucky dollar van riders in Brooklyn this weekend.
On Saturday, two van companies, Blackstreet Van Line and Royal Rose, will offer complimentary rides to anyone they pick up from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. along their typical Flatbush Avenue route from Downtown Brooklyn through Crown Heights and East Flatbush to Canarsie, they said.
“We try to do what we can come up with to show our appreciation,” said Winston Williams, an East Flatbush resident and owner of the Crown Heights-based Blackstreet since 2001. “We have to try and do what we can to stand out in a positive way.”
Williams estimates his four vans transport about 150 people every day, each paying $2 a ride. And for years, he has been unofficially treating those customers, he said, sometimes giving free rides to women on Mother’s Day or offering half-off rides on Christmas — something riders do not expect.
“When you tell them [that the ride is free], they’re still pushing money on you,” Williams said. “They think there’s a catch or something, but there’s no catch. There’s nothing that we want from them.”
This year, the two companies teamed up with a sponsor, cellphone service provider MetroPCS, to offer free rides on two of the busiest shopping days — Black Friday and, now, the Saturday before Christmas.
Riders, who can catch the vans by hailing them or by waiting at bus stops along the routes, will be able to win tickets to a Brooklyn Nets games if they post about the free ride with the hashtag #MetroFreeRide and everyone will get MetroPCS gift bags, organizers said. But beyond the marketing push, nothing is required of customers.
“We are just a couple of commuter vans who want to give back to the community,” Williams said.
For more information about the free rides, contact Blackstreet Van Lines through is Facebook page or call Royal Rose at (718) 469-7074.