Livingston’s proposed jitney to South Orange moved one step closer to reality on Monday as the town council approved an ordinance establishing the transportation route on its first reading. The ordinance now goes to a second reading and final vote on Sep. 4.
“I think we all recognize that it’s important for our residents to go to their places of employment as quickly, easily and as efficiently as the towns that surround us,” Livingston Mayor Stephen Santola said. “We really need to have services beyond the 77 bus into Manhattan.”
Alan Karpas, chairman of the township's Vision 20/20 committee, provided the details of the service that would allow commuters to travel from the to the . Residents would be charged a $2 fare per ride. There will also be a monthly pass offered for $70 a month.
“By a large amount, this will be the cheapest way to commute to New York City,” Karpas said.
The cost to the town for the service will be $54,000 over a six month period. The service is expected to cost about $450 per day for the driver, vehicle and insurance.
"The $54,000 cost to the Township is for a six month trial period and will cost that amount if there are absolutely no riders during the period of operation," Karpas told Patch in an e-mail to clarify the cost. "We need an average of 25 riders per hour (12 1/2 per trip average) to have the jitney be a breakeven project."
Santola also explained that with the passenger fares and advertising on the jitney, the service can eventually be self-sufficient. Township Manager Michele Meade said the initial funding would come from Livingston’s Recreation Trust Fund, a typical source for new services. Also the town will be looking into setting up an online process to buy monthly passes.
The current plan will call for a jitney to run twice an hour, starting at 5:30 a.m. and running until 9:30 a.m. The jitney will then run in the afternoon peak hours between 4-9 p.m. The jitney schedule will be tied to the train schedule.
With the recent , it is expected that many commuters will want to try this new service. Santola and Karpas said the schedule can be adjusted almost daily to accommodate the amount of riders.
“This has been long-coming,” said Karpas, who thanked the town council on behalf of his committee. “Now is the right time (for the jitney). Everybody in town knows that we have to do this.”