In recent weeks, jitney buses have begun picking up passengers at bus stops on Central Avenue during rush hours. While there are jitney companies operating as they should in Jersey City, a significant percentage of jitneys are taken off the road for failed safety inspections, lack of insurance and unqualified drivers every time the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office’s coordinates a surprise inspection. Jitney companies can also be elusive and hard to hold accountable for any problems; one of the companies recently observed operating on Central Avenue reports an address that is located within an apartment building, and another gives the address of an out-of-state company that has no authorization to carry passengers in New Jersey.
Jitneys serve the needs of many commuters in Hudson County with inexpensive and frequent service during peak periods. However, jitneys threaten to undermine the viability of the established NJ Transit and Coach USA bus routes, because jitneys only pick up passengers during the rush hours that bus companies rely on to offset the losses incurred by operating during off-peak times. Losing more traditional bus routes would hit seniors, people with disabilities and people who commute to work outside of rush hour, because the jitneys are not handicapped-accessible and have no obligation to service routes all day long.
The CASID recently organized a meeting with Councilman Bill Gaughan, Police Director Sam Jefferson, Police Chief Tom Comey, and representatives of the Mayor’s Office, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, and Coach USA to discuss concerns about jitney operations and safety. As a result of the meeting, these parties will be pursuing better ways to inform the public about the safety and liability concerns associated with riding jitneys and to ensure that jitney companies are regulated according to the same standards that bus companies are required to meet.
If you are curious as to the location and safety record of a specific jitney company, jot down the D.O.T. number on the side of the jitney, go to www.safersys.org, and click on Company Snapshopt to look up the company operating under that D.O.T number. The information you find may suprise you.