New Jersey--The LANJ has been making some new advancements in their fight against the unchecked, under-regulated operation of Jitney buses. When 8-month old Angelie Paredes was killed by a damaged telephone pole in New York after a Jitney driver—who was texting at the time—crashed into it this past July, the news echoed beyond the city. And when officials reported that driver who killed her was issued seven traffic tickets over the past two years including blowing through a red light, the nation got a harsh wake up to the under-looked issue.
LANJ has taken its battle into the legal realm with their support of amendment of N.J. Assembly Bill 3993, which increases insurance requirements on autobus operators and requires those drivers to possess a CDL. The proposed amendments, however, would enable local, county, and state officials to enforce the law based off of “probable cause” and set a $1,500 fine for first offenders who fail to have vehicles properly inspected twice a year or lack required insurance, CDLs, or criminal background checks. Owners that own or rent the vehicles would be required to pay the same fare as the fined drivers. Hotline numbers would also be placed on the side of the vehicles to report dangerous driving.
These proposed amendments would also close loopholes in the bill which Atlantic City Jitneys have been using to conduct charter and prearranged services.
“The prospects are excellent,” says LANJ Executive Director Barry Lefkowitz of the bill’s likeliness to get passed after being assured by associates that the bill would move forward after the upcoming elections. This issue has even been gaining attention on the national level as of late. U.S. Senator Robert Menendez of N.J., after the death of Paredes, has expressed outrage and even called on U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx to put together a task force to examine possible new regulations on Jitneys. Recently, Menendez’s Legislative Counsel and Transportation Aide shared a phone conference with Lefkowitz, Jeff Shanker, Pete Corelli, and Paul Rosenberg of the LANJ to discuss the matter.
“We were able to give them some insight they hadn’t had,” says Lefkowitz of the meeting, “and then we followed up with materials for them to give some further background information.”
LANJ members—with the success of the conference call and likelihood of further communication with Senator Menendez and perhaps even Secretary of Transportation Fox—share hopes that federal regulation may come in the near future.
For more information, visit lanj.org.