Chiaravalloti Bill to Require Local Approval of Jitneys Advances

Legislation Follows Death of Boy Struck by Vehicle at Jersey City Intersection

Legislation Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti introduced to help enhance the safety of jitney buses traveling on New Jersey roads was advanced by an Assembly committee on Monday.

Chiaravalloti’s introduction of the measure followed the recent death of George Gonzalez, an 11-year-old Jersey City boy who was fatally struck by a jitney bus at an intersection. Because local city councils and township committees have no authority to regulate the vehicles, the entities in the best position to prevent and respond to such tragedies in their own communities currently cannot do so, Chiaravalloti noted.

“Local governments know their roads, and they know which jitney lines are causing chaos on their roads. Unfortunately, however, they don’t have the power to change the conditions they know endanger the people they have a duty to protect,” said Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson). “Jitney services are an integral part of the North Jersey transportation network. As is the case with every other transportation service that commuters rely on, our state must act to ensure that jitneys operate in a manner that keeps jitney drivers and passengers, pedestrians and other motorists safe.”

The bill (A-4323) calls for local approval of privately-owned, low-cost commuter shuttle buses that operate on public roads in New Jersey, colloquially referred to as “jitney buses.” Under the legislation, owners of the vehicles would be required to register the buses with each municipality in which they wish to operate and receive approval to conduct business from each municipality’s governing board.

A violation of the bill’s provisions would carry a civil penalty of $1,000 for a first violation, $2,000 for a second violation and $5,000 for a third or subsequent violation.

The bill would augment accountability measures enacted in 2014 under Angelie’s Law, legislation named after 8-month-old Angelie Paredes, who in 2013 was killed by a lamppost struck by a jitney driver who was using his cell phone.

The measure was advanced by the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee.