Jersey City, NJ – On June 1, Coach USA Red & Tan of Hudson County cut service in half along its No. 10/ 99s bus route. Jersey City residents, business owners, students, seniors, commuters, and visitors cried out for help with an online campaign that produced nearly 275 emails to the bus company and elected officials. Those voices were heard.
On July 9th, a meeting was held at the CASID office to discuss the bus line’s future. In attendance were Assemblyman Vincent Prieto (representing the 32nd Legislative District Senator Nick Sacco and Assemblywoman Joan Quigley), Councilman Bill Gaughan, Mayor’s Aide David Donnelly, Deputy Jersey City Police Chief Peter Nalbach, Hudson County TDM Program Manager Jay DiDomenico, and representatives from Coach USA and CASID. The meeting produced both short and long term plans to reverse the downward trend the line has taken in recent weeks.
The No. 10/ 99s bus connects Bayonne, Jersey City (Kennedy Blvd, Journal Square, and the Central Avenue Business District) with the New York City Port Authority Bus Terminal. Given it connects these major destinations, one can easily argue that expanding service on this line will go a long way in improving the infrastructure of public transportation, furthering economic development, increasing property value, and enhancing the quality of life for local residents in Hudson County. Coach USA is the only authorized private operator dedicated to servicing this route including the Central Avenue main street in the Heights section of Jersey City twenty four (24) hours a day, seven (7) days a week. However, this bus line is slowly being destroyed by rogue jitney buses that are illegally overlapping the route. Given that six (6) other private Jersey City bus lines (231, 3, 5, 11, 16, and 99) have disappeared since 2006, the possibility of losing the No. 10/ 99s is very real.
Having no set bus schedule of their own to follow, these rogue jitneys have been seen mimicking the No. 10/ 99s schedule during peak (rush) hours and are very rarely seen during the rest of the day. Coincidently, they arrive five minutes before to pick up commuters waiting at the stops leaving scraps for the No. 10/ 99s. As a result of this undermining tactic, Coach USA has had to internally cut costs to compensate for the loss of ridership by drastically reducing service to only once per hour instead of the previous thirty minute intervals.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has a public process in place which regulates private bus/ jitney companies but some jitney operators have found a loop hole while others choose to test both the US DOT and municipality’s law enforcement ability. While researching this matter, a database of all US DOT authorized buses in Hudson County, much less Jersey City was not readily available. This gap of information between the US DOT and local authorities raised many questions and concerns as to which private carriers are licensed in Hudson County, how are those efforts coordinated, and how can licensing regulations be efficiently enforced.
Deputy Chief Nalbach and the Jersey City Police Department have agreed to further investigate this matter by identifying questionable bus operators on the road and enforcing the law on any bus company operating illegally or who compromise public safety. In regards to a long term solution, Senator Nick Sacco, Assemblyman Prieto and Councilman Gaughan are working with Hudson County TMA to create both state and municipal legislation that will bridge the gap between local authorities and US DOT. The spirit of the legislation is to better coordinate the efforts of private bus companies within the county and municipally.
Simultaneously, Coach USA has agreed to gradually rebuild the line. Beginning July 13, the No. 10/ 99s will run an extra two buses (7:00am and 8:15am) during weekday mornings starting at the intersection of Central and Hoboken Avenue towards the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal. Being that the additional service is a shorter ride; commuters can expect these buses to be consistently on time and as reliable as possible. “As ridership increases, we will then be able to increase service,” said Jim Rutherford, General Manger.
The fare to and from NYC PABT is $4.00 each way on the No. 10/ 99s. Red & Tan of Hudson County is offering a promotional fare between Central Avenue and New York City for $2.75 each way via tickets. You can purchase tickets from Goehrig’s Bakery (475 Central Ave), Garden State News (366 Central Ave), or at Mendez Agency (263 Central Ave). Promotional tickets apply only to destinations north of Journal Square. A ride from Central Avenue to PABT is approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
“We wish to thank all who participated with the online email campaign and those who responded,” says Michael Yun, President of the CASID. “By working together we can put transit service such as the No. 10/ 99s back on track. This service is vital to both the neighborhood and business communities in Jersey City.” A follow up meeting will be held in early September.
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