By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“The tragic loss of 11-year old George Gonzalez was a sad reminder of how vital it is to regulate commuter buses and ensure that they serve their communities safely,” Chiaravalloti said in a statement.
“We need to empower local communities who are dealing with these public safety issues. This legislation aims to give the power back to the municipalities where these autobuses operate.”
The bill (A-4323) calls for local approval of privately-owned, low-cost commuter shuttle buses that operate on public roads in New Jersey, commonly 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.
“Jitneys provide a valuable service in a number of communities, but we have to ensure that they are a safe mode of transportation,” added McKnight.
“Giving local officials more authority in this regard will allow those who are familiar with how jitney routes affect overall traffic patterns to influence decisions and ultimately improve public safety.”
Assembly members John Wisniewski (D-19) and Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-37) also sponsored the legislation.
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 Assembly passed the measure by a vote of 63-11-3.