Thursday, September 12, 2013

LANJ Enlisted to Amend Bill to Stop Illegal Jitney Activities

Illegal practices of “jitneys” operating out of Atlantic City, NJ, as well as Bergen, Hudson, and Union Counties in the northern part of the state, have long been a subject of contention amongst area ground transportation professionals and regulators. New Jersey Assembly Bill A3993 was introduced earlier this year to deal with these illegal activities by requiring jitney drivers to possess commercial licenses, and imposing increases to insurance requirements. With support from the Limousine Association of New Jersey (LANJ), several other transportation organizations and a number of state officials, the bill has gained traction in the state legislature.

Some of the illegal activities that prompted the aggressive pursuit of this legislation include jitneys providing service at the Atlantic City International Airport, as well as charter work servicing weddings, proms, concerts, and other events outside of their regulatory authority—sometimes even providing interstate trips. The conflict arises from the fact that jitneys in Atlantic City are supposed to operate only on a fixed route within four municipalities adjacent to the city. Regarding jitneys operating in northern New Jersey, the bill addresses the fact that they do not meet the definition allowed by state law in order to be classified as a jitney, as they are routinely rented to drivers without commercial licenses.

All parties agree that this and further legislation is necessary to enforce penalties and reduce the legal ambiguities regarding how jitneys are allowed to operate. In a recent development, LANJ was asked by the NJ Assembly and Senate to work with the Office of Legislative Services to amend the bi-partisan bill. The amended bill will impose higher fines to enforce inspections, insurance, proper licensing and criminal background checks. Additionally, owners of jitney-buses that lease or rent their vehicles will be fined the same as the driver for any of the offenses.

The new, amended Senate bill is scheduled to be introduced in September by Senators Sacco (Chairman of the Transportation Committee and Mayor of North Bergen), Cunningham (Senate Majority Whip) and Holzapfel (Republican Member of the Senate Transportation Committee).

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