Jersey City plans for transit system where riders can request buses

Imagine never waiting for a bus again. Instead, you call it to come to you when you need it. That’s the premise of a new transportation system coming to Jersey City, says Mayor Steve Fulop.

“We started to think about what other cities have done around the world and around the country. There is technology out there, if you think of Uber or Lyft, that allows buses or vans, branded Jersey City, operated by Jersey City, to basically pick up passengers within a block of their home, so much more convenient,” Fulop said.

The city council put out a Request for Proposal for a company to come in and operate a micro-transit system where buses would operate on a route, but could deviate to go get riders who need a pick-up. For instance, people who live in neighborhoods like Greenville and the Heights where mass transit is limited.

“So you would click on it, they would recognize that you’re in proximity to one of the buses in the system and headed toward this route, and they would pick you up within a block or two blocks of your home,” Fulop said.

Business Administrator Brian Platt said the idea came as a response to complaints from residents.

“We get a ton of complaints on the reliability of mass transit today. Unfortunately, we have no control over it and so we’re doing what we can to implement a new type of system that’ll help meet the needs of our residents,” Platt said.

But the mayor took that a step further.

“Similar to NJ Transit throughout the state of New Jersey, they’re failing Jersey City as they are elsewhere. And we need help from the state and we’re not getting it. And so what we’re looking to do is find solutions by ourselves that will help our residents,” Fulop said.

But it’s not just about convenience, says transportation planner Barkha Patel, it’s solving a major traffic problem in the city.

“There’s congestion on the streets themselves because of a lot of single rider vehicles, which we’re trying to cut down on. This effort that we’ve launched is part of a greater effort that the city has committed to called Vision Zero which is a goal to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries that occur on our streets by the year 2026,” Patel said.

And she says getting people out of their cars is the key to that. But it’ll be a new expense for the city. Fulop said the city has set aside $2 million, but Platt says they still don’t know the full cost and they’ll need outside funding.

“We’re looking to fund this through both our public funding sources, through grants, through any types of donations and partnerships that we can find as well,” said Platt.

The response deadline for the RFP is July 30, and the mayor’s office expects to roll the program out by the end of the year.

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