Livingston commuters can count on catching the Livingston Express Shuttle in 2014.
The township council approved a one-year contract extension with jitney provider State Shuttle Inc. on Monday for about $116,800. The jitney, which began running in Livingston in 2012, received high marks from nearly all the council members.
“I think [the jitney] is a great idea,” said Councilman Alfred Anthony. “It makes Livingston a more attractive place to live.
“It’s great for the town; it’s great for quality of life; it’s great for home values,” said Deputy Mayor Michael Rieber. “Indirectly everybody benefits” from the jitney.
The resolution was also welcome news to Livingston commuters, many of whom who came out to the meeting to endorse the daily shuttle.
Residents Robert and Linda Glenn, who make the daily commute into New York City for work, said they moved into Livingston from Staten Island this year for the town’s myriad services and especially the jitney. They added the jitney was also necessary in a town where there are no train stations and limited buses.
Both Glenns said they were satisfied with the jitney service.
The morning and afternoon shuttle service provides commuters with nonstop, round-trip service between Livingston Mall — where riders can park for free all day — and the South Orange Train Station. The ride takes about 15 minutes. Riders can purchase daily tickets or monthly passes.
While ridership and revenues continue to climb, the jitney is not self-sustaining and leaves Livingston residents to pick up the costs of providing the service, which led Councilwoman Deborah Shapiro to cast the sole vote against the jitney contract.
“I think the shuttle is a fantastic idea,” said Shapiro. “However … I think it needs to be self-sustaining now and I don’t think it should be added as a budget line item. … Until we can make this self-sustaining, I will continue to vote no.”
The first year of the jitney service, between October 2012 and this past November, cost taxpayers about $75,000. Total costs were $115,180 with revenues reaching about $40,000.
Alan Karpas, chairman of the Vision 20/20 Committee which was instrumental in bringing the jitney to Livingston, expected more jitney riders to nearly double revenues this coming year.
In 2014, Karpas estimated that riders would bring in about $92,000 in revenue, leaving taxpayers to pay $24,000 for the jitney service.
Karpas predicted even higher revenues in the future.
“I expect in the first quarter of 2015 [the jitney] will break even,” said Karpas.