Residents in the Greenville and Heights neighborhoods of Jersey City will be able to travel more easily when the city’s new on-demand transit system hits the city streets in three months.
On Thursday, Sept. 19, Mayor Steven Fulop, members of the city council, and local officials announced it will become the first city in the state to have an on-demand bus system through a $1.8 million partnership with Via, a New York City-based company which provides transit options and ride-shares.
The new city-subsidized commuting network aims to assist residents in the city’s “traffic deserts” and ease frustrations of commuters who are dealing with overcrowded buses such as the NJ Transit 119 and 87 bus routes, and unreliable schedules.
In March, the No. 4 bus service was discontinued. The route, which ran from Merritt Street near the Bayonne border to the Newport Centre Mall, connected riders from the Greenville and Bergen-Lafayette neighborhoods to Downtown.
State Assemblywoman Angela McKnight said losing the private bus route inconvenienced people in the southern portion of the city.
The new service will connect the northern and southern areas of the city, as well as the city’s transit hubs in Journal Square and Downtown, and the city’s shopping districts.
“As NJ Transit continues to neglect the city’s mass transit systems, and without help from the state, we are now creating our own innovative solutions that will meet the needs of our residents,” said Mayor Fulop. “This is the latest step toward our larger vision of getting cars off the road, while creating mobility in neighborhoods that sometimes lack connectivity to other parts of the city.”
How it works
The service will be “transformational,” according to Fulop, and will offer 14 six-passenger vans, which will provide an estimated 150,000 rides per month.
Similar to Uber and Lyft, Via will drive multiple passengers headed in similar directions without fixed routes, picking up and dropping off passengers at corners instead of directly to their destinations.
Passengers will be able to request a ride using the Via app or by calling a service phone number. Using an algorithm, Via will then direct the passenger a short walking distance to a virtual bus stop no more than three blocks away.
The service phone number will be announced once Via launches.
According to Via’s Head of Global Consumers Alex Lavoie, wait times will be below 12-15 minutes.
Riders can also request a wheelchair accessible vehicle, which will pick up those with disabilities at their specific locations, not requiring the passenger to walk to a virtual stop.
“Via’s powerful technology is seamlessly integrating with public transit infrastructure around the globe, redefining the way people get around cities,” said Daniel Ramot, co-founder and CEO of Via. “We’re delighted to join forces with Mayor Fulop and the City Council to bring this cutting-edge, on-demand shuttle system to Jersey City, providing residents with a convenient, affordable, and congestion-reducing dynamic transportation alternative.”
Those who use the service will pay $2 a ride either through the app or using cash.
Seniors and low-income residents will be able to ride for $1 or less.
Service will operate Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The service will not operate within downtown and Journal Square.
At least 10 percent of the fleet will be electric vehicles. Via will provide its own charging infrastructure and maintenance, according to the city’s Business Administrator Brian Platt.
Fulop said he hopes the new system will convince residents they don’t need a car. The new system will be both convenient and cost-effective because residents won’t need to worry about parking, long wait times, and traffic.