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The Paterson, New Jersey to George Washington Bridge Jitney Route

“A re-think of what it will take for this mode of Transit

to be a success"

Bernard Asagai ba2209@columbia.edu Paper No. 2 Urban Transportation Policy Columbia University Professor Lapp November 30th, 2006


The Corridor of New Jersey's Route 4 & The Jitney The subject of my term paper, are the Paratransit services, also termed, Jitney Services that operate from Paterson, N.J to the George Washington Bridge in New York City. The corridor that these Jitneys Services use is that of New Jersey's highway, Route 4. This three-lane highway operates a direct link to either New York City toward the direction of East, or to that of Paterson, NJ toward the direction of West. The Jitney services that operate along this corridor average about 26 trips per hour. That is, the Jitneys average thirteen trips in both directions per hour. The Jitneys services begin their operations at 6:00am and usually end their operations at l2:00 mid-night. Route 4, the corridor that is operated by the Jitneys in this sector of New Jersey is also the same corridor that is operated by New Jersey Transit's, 171 Buses. During my study, I took the time to perform an analysis of NJT along this route as well, and found that not only were the Jitneys services competing at a trip-rate that was four times greater than that of New Jersey Transit Buses along this route, but they were also providing a better cost-value. For example, NJT charges passengers $4.75 to travel from Paterson, NJ to the George Washington Bridge Bus/Subway Terminal. Upon this same route, the Jitneys services charge $4.00, and passengers can pay for their purchase with a $5, $10, or $20 dollar bill and will be given the change that is due. In the c1ase of NJT, when a passenger pays for their fare it must be done so in the exact amount of the price for the trip. If one is in need of _________________________________________________________ The Paterson to George Washington Bridge Jitney Route "A re-think of what it will take for this mode of Transit to be a success�

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change, it will not be provided. If an individual were to pay for a $3.00 fare with a $5.00 bill, the individual would not be provided with the $2.00 owed. On NJT buses, the fare must be exact! Another difference between the two services are the locations from which patrons are picked up. If one were seeking to use the service of NJT, one would

have to locate and wait at the specific bus stops along the corridor. A person seeking NJT's services would be inclined to do this because NJT will only pick-up passengers at its designated bus stops. This also is the case when patrons desire to exit NJT's buses at locations other then those that are designated as NJT pickup/drop-off points. The drivers are only permitted to sanction exits from their buses at NJT designated bus stops.

In the case of the Jitney services, they will pick-up and drop-off anywhere along the route. If you are an elderly lady with groceries, and your home was simply around the comer, you might get door-service as well. It is this versatility to the standard non-flexible rules of bus services that makes Jitneys so popular and dangerously competitive to the traditional mode of bus transportation. The Jitney services that I studied, operate everyday of the week, picking-up patrons from any point along the corridor of Route 4. These services, just as NJT along the corridor, pick-up and drop-off at large apartment buildings along the corridor as well as at Shopping Malls. The operations of the services are in operation for almost 18hrs per-day. At a trip-rate of26 runs per hour, such figures translate into a major employment engine for what are mostly people of Hispanic decent that are not natively from the United States. These services allow a way for new migrants to have access to employment, and a means of becoming upwardly mobile within society. Such services also provide assistance with mastery of the English language, entrepreneurial skills within U.S. society, and constant interaction with the Social Capital that most times is very tightly knit within individuals _________________________________________________________ The Paterson to George Washington Bridge Jitney Route "A re-think of what it will take for this mode of Transit to be a success�

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from Latin backgrounds. As a caveat though, I have witnessed new immigrants operate as drivers of Jitneys, and while most times there have been no issues whatsoever, there have been a few times when I have seen patrons dropped off at the wrong locations. These incidents occurred because the driver did not understand that which was being stated in English. I have also witnessed patron's request specific information about areas along the corridor, such as where to exit the Jitney in order to be at the location such as a mall, or a movie theater. In these cases, the drivers did not know because they were using a language that was new to them, within a location that was new as well. The drivers of these services DRIVE around these areas, but they do not LIVE within these areas and there are times when this presents a problem.

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A Place For Transit, That Is More Than A Sign Post!! It is my belief that the lack of sheltered and enclosed pick-up/drop-off points

in which patrons can sit and wait in safety and comfort, is probably the greatest hindrance to citizens adoption of mass transit services such as Jitneys as buses as well. No one desires to endure the elements of the scorching rays of the sun, nor the frigid temperatures of the Winter especially when one might have a vehicle sitting in the driveway, ready to transport them at the simple turn of a key. Such demands as mal weather endorcment that are forced upon the public as they seek to do their part to make transit services such as the Jitney a reality for the masses, should not be obligatory for transit's pioneers. Comfort, warmth, cleanliness, and access to a means of security, are elements that should not be thought of as amenities, but as standards that are natural to the services of mass transit. Though it is the case that Jitney services are privately owned and operated along this corridor, even though that they are private, if it is truly the goal of the public sector to have them continue to grow and provide more services to more corridors, these private entities will need assistance at the points at which the public and private sectors interact. _________________________________________________________ The Paterson to George Washington Bridge Jitney Route "A re-think of what it will take for this mode of Transit to be a success�

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In conclusion of this point, it is wonderful that there are official stops along

major roads and highways, but it is appalling that all that identifies that location as a stop is an 11" x 8" small non-lit metal sign. Furthermore, the lack of an official place for patrons of either service to stay as they wait for either a Jitney or a Bus speaks volumes regarding the seriousness that New Jersey Department of Transportation desires to convert new patrons to either service. During the time that I have dedicated to this study, I have seen a great many individuals waiting in the rain on the side of Route 4 for a Jitney. Most of the official stops along this corridor do not have a waiting area where there is an official signpost. The lack of such services acts as a deterrent to the provision of transit. Furthermore, many of the areas that are designated as official stops/waiting areas do not have enclosures to act as protection from the rain, snow, or the rays of the sun; also, many of the designated areas lack lighting as well as a means to contact police should an individual be in danger. Along the Route 4 corridor, coming from or going to New York City, this area is one full of wooded terrain. It is literally an area where anything could happen, and given that there does not exist a level of security, it is a major impasse in the converting of citizens to the use of either service. Again, it is appalling that such an impasse exist. With current technologies that are in use today, it would not be very difficult or excessively expensive to install digital cameras, digital security phones, as well GPS locators that could be used to direct authorities to exact locations of both Jitney/Bus Stops as well as the vehicles that are used along their routes. Such services are no longer amenities, but necessities in our day. The level of security that is used within these areas should be that of the highest order, especially given the fact that _________________________________________________________ The Paterson to George Washington Bridge Jitney Route "A re-think of what it will take for this mode of Transit to be a success�

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modem technology has greatly diminished the costs. Along the topic of security, it is my recommendation that the New Jersey Department of Transportation mandate that Jitney operators be required to install within their vehicles, digital video systems as well as GPS indicators that will make it possible in the case of a crime or emergency, the rapid location of Bus stops or Jitneys for the quickest response time possible.

Raising The Level of Amenities Also, it is also my belief that a new and clearly defined (LOS) should also be

established for exactly that which defines the vehicles that can be classified as Jitneys within the state. During my study, I identified various versions of vehicles that are classified as Jitneys. Some, though very few, were sleek new machines that sat 25 people, and stood 10. Having as well, on-board televisions which were connected to DVD players that were capable of providing patrons a way of viewing the local news, a sporting event, or a Hollywood movie as they are whisked to their destinations. What proved to be the norm though, was loud Meringue or Salsa music, most of the times, played at levels that were far too high for a service that was provided for the public. On this topic as well, (and I love Latin culture) but I questioned if the _________________________________________________________ The Paterson to George Washington Bridge Jitney Route "A re-think of what it will take for this mode of Transit to be a success�

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constant playing of this type of loud music, if it could provoke some patrons with the means to once again use their automobiles for their journeys to work. Such an act might not seem highly probable, but if gas prices were once again $1.29 per gallon, and the economy began to take a turn for the better, some of these same patrons that have decided to try the Jitney services, could if they were really unhappy with the level of service provided, not only forever see it not as a viable alternative, but could as well, speak negatively of Jitney services, making it harder to convince others to give them a try. Although I am a serious advocate of the services, there have been some days when the service was so bad that if I had the means to have made a choice regarding the use of the Jitney services or my own personal automobile, I would have chosen the latter. Events that triggered such feelings within myself were: • Jitney drivers that drive at dangerously high speeds. • Jitney drivers driving within the third lane of Route 4. • Jitney drivers that drove far too slow, as if speed was not an important element of the journey. • Jitney drivers who blasted music as if patrons did not exist, and that they should be grateful for the access to the driver's vehicle. • Driver refusing to turn-on the AC in a hot vehicle. Jitneys with inadequate heating to combat the cold. • Driver pulling over at a gas station during morning peak-hour traffic. • Wet Seats, Ripped Seats, Smelly Vehicles, • Driving on Route 4 with a flat tire because there was no one to be called after 5pm that could bring another vehicle to continue provision of service for patrons. We rode for miles at about 10 mph. • Driver allowing too many people to stand on the vehicle, even when the bus does not hand-supports installed upon the ceiling of the vehicle.

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"Is it a School Bus? No, It's a Jitney!" Some vehicles that I had the opportunity to ride within were classified as Jitneys, but in truth, were little more that 1981 class, BlueBird mid-sized school buses like the one pictured above. These vehicles certainly have great use-value, especially given the fact that they are still being used, but, I am opposed to such uses in lieu of the greater goal that is being sought by the introduction of Jitneys, and that is the provision of a viable alternative for motorists, other then the automobile. The use of such old style vehicles, could prod possible adopters of such modes of transit, back into their cars. Such actions are partly why I believe that the New Jersey Department of Transportation must intervene, and provide greater clarity and through definition of the Jitney classifications. The current loose standard of vehicle definitions has the possible ramifications of crippling a means of transit that, if it were successful along simply one corridor, it could be expanded to ten!

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It is my belief that what the service could be, IT MUST BE, in order to be a

success. Another way of stating my position is that given the current high-level of attraction that many motorists have towards their automobiles, there exists little more than ONE SHOT at convincing people to leave the keys to their cars on the living room table, and try the services of a Jitney operator. If there truly exist a goal of raising the level of users that are currently using Jitney services, then the New Jersey State Department of Transportation must seriously focus it's attention upon the current policies that are in place, as well as the desired end-product that it is seeking to attain from the use of such polices.

The "EZ" Thing To Do

It is my opinion that the New Jersey Department of Transportation must define what the standard of service is to be for Jitney operators. This is something that needs to be accomplished if public transportation is to continue to exist not just within the State of New Jersey, but also within the region as a whole if Jitneys are to have and sustain high levels of success. It is my fear of the consequences that can occur if the private operators of the Jitney services begin to adjust their service and morph into a service that sets a higher level of service than that of NJT. Such a possible reality would have major implications not simply to NJT alone, but all public _________________________________________________________ The Paterson to George Washington Bridge Jitney Route "A re-think of what it will take for this mode of Transit to be a success�

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transportation within the region. Jitneys are already flexing their muscles in terms of their speed. The Paterson to George Washington Bridge Jitney Route make it a requirement of

Jitney services that are in operation, as well as those that desire to acquire licenses of operation for such services within the State, that they be mandated to purchase E - Z PAS S ® TRAN S PO N D ERS for the vehicles, or the creation of a hefty surcharge for the Jitneys that stop and pay a toll-change with standard currency, instead of through the use of an E-Z PASS ® TRAN SPO N D ER. The use of Jitney services within areas where there exist a population that will use the services of such providers is very essential. But should there exist amenities such as E-Z PASS® TRANSPO N DERS that can enable the services of certain mass transit provisions to provide speedier transit, such provisions should be enforced as a requirement to operate within certain areas, and should the operator choose not to adhere to the guidelines of purchasing an E-Z PASS® TRANSPONDER, the State should apply a surcharge to the total price of the standard fare. In conclusion of this point, it does not make much sense for Jitney operators to not take advantage of the special provisions, which are designed to assist mass transit commuters. Given the data that I have seen, the Jitney operators are certainly making enough revenue to acquire Transponders, as well as the fact that the attainment of a Transponder will most likely make their customers commutes, that much faster! When approaching this from the business side of the equation, such a move would most likely, raise the bottom-line of the Jitney Services as they will undoubtedly save on fuel as the Jitneys will wait less time in traffic, as well as make for a positive effect upon the environment as the vehicles will burn less fuel then they currently require for operation.

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The use of E - Z PASSÂŽ TRANSPO N DERS provides a low-cost way of raising the standard level of service above that which is currently being provided by Jitney operators along the corridor.

Additional Recommendations: It is my recommendation that New Jersey Transit, in conjunction with the New Jersey Department of Transportation, begin adding layers of publicly owned and operated Jitney services within specific popular corridors. It is my opinion that such a move is currently necessary to provide for something that is currently not in place, and that is the element of competition. The current lack of competition amongst the operators along the corridor, have assisted in the promoting of negative elements within the Jitney services. The injection of more competition, as well as a solid example from NJT in conjunction with NJDT could be an enormous boost to this mode of transit. The Jitney services that I have used continuously along the corridor of Route 4 have performed their per-hour trips amazingly well. However the gauging of success and that of performance go beyond the level of trip generations that are performed within an hour. Though I am an avid fan of the Jitney, I am also an avid critic of the current ways in which the Jitney is being introduced and used within society. For example, the Jitney service has an underlying premise that I believe is currently being overlooked by their private operators, as well as by the New Jersey Department of Transportation itself. The purpose of the Jitney is not simply an avenue to provide cheap, fast, and flexible transportation; but is as

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well, a new and potent option for citizens of cities and connected regions to effectively address their needs of mobility in a way that is less congesting for roads, and less polluting of the environment. If one takes a few moments to look at the list of locations that the Jitney services along Route 4 provide service, (last page of this document) , if one has some knowledge of the area, one should notice that the household incomes of these areas have a very vast range. I am drawing attention to this point because the Jitney has within the root of its history, seeds of which come from the bus. For various historical, sociological, economical, and racial reasons, it has normally been the case that anything that looked or performed a service similar to the bus, it was shunned within many societies, especially that of the United States. The fact that within a roundtrip from Paterson, NJ to the George Washington Bridge, the services can carry 100 people or more to their various destinations speaks volumes. These are individuals that are from as varied of backgrounds as diplomats within the United Nations. The economical, racial, social, and class-makeup of those that use the services represent a distance just as wide as well. The services of the Jitneys have been stupendous, but the (LOS) LevelOf-Service of the companies that operate them leave much to be desired. It is my belief that a few things should occur which could address some the

current defects that are currently within the service. Firstly, I believe that the New Jersey State Transportation Authority that issues the licenses of operation for the Jitney services, that they should gradually provide increasing regulations for the operation of the Jitneys within the state, so as to insure that a standard (LOS) is being provided so that the larger desire of the Jitney, which is to promote Transit as a viable alternative to the automobile is enhanced. _________________________________________________________ The Paterson to George Washington Bridge Jitney Route "A re-think of what it will take for this mode of Transit to be a success�

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Jitney Route & Route Fees New York City George Washington Bridge to: Fort Lee Englewood Teaneck Hackensack Bergen Mall Garden State Mall Fair Lawn Elmwood Park Paterson

$1.00 $1.50 $2.00 $2.50 $2.50 $2.50 $3.00 $3.00 $4.00

Paterson, New Jersey to: Elmwood Park $3.00 Fair Lawn $3.00 Garden State Mall $2.50 Bergen Mall $2.50 Hackensack $2.50 Teaneck $2.00 Englewood $1.50 Fort Lee $1.00 New York City $4.00

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Jitney Transportation Along New Jersey's Route 4 Corridor  

Jitney Transportation Along New Jersey's Route 4 Corridor

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