Few would argue the need for better mass transit in Jersey City’s northernmost neighborhood and a community meeting will be held tonight that aims to highlight NJ Transit’s efforts to improve service along the busiest bus line in The Heights.
As part of the regular meeting of the Riverview Neighborhood Association (RNA), New Jersey Transit will be presenting the agency’s findings regarding the 119 bus. The line, which is run by subcontractor Academy Bus, has been plagued by overcrowding due to an industry-wide shortage of Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holders.
NJ Transit has stated that the lack of drivers under Academy’s employ has led to missed trips, which create and exacerbate crowding conditions on the line especially during peak hours. Academy has been fined for the performance lapses but that has offered little solace to frustrated commuters in a neighborhood that is becoming increasingly popular.
After meeting over the issue earlier this year, NJ Transit agreed to temporarily forgo penalty payments assessed to Academy in the name of allowing the company to reinstitute $5,000 signing bonuses to lure new drivers for the 119 bus line. The plan appears to have worked a bit, as NJ Transit told the RNA that Academy has more than 60 new drivers in the onboarding queue.
It takes private carriers around a month to sign, train, and send new drivers into the field, so commuters should hopefully see some relief along the line very soon. NJ Transit has also had staff in the field along the 119 route monitoring conditions, keeping hard data on the number of customers left behind and other problems that arise. In addition, planners at the agency have been reviewing the logistics of the 119 line to determine if route adjustments might create more efficient service.
New Jersey Transit’s Executive Director Kevin Corbett will be discussing the bus line and transportation issues the neighborhood faces tonight with residents, who will get a chance to weigh in with their concerns. The meeting, set to start at 7 p.m., will take place inside the Harborview Health Center at 178 Ogden Avenue at the corner of Franklin Street.