Autobus driver bill heard in committee

TRENTON – A bill requiring autobus drivers to have commercial driver’s licenses and carry more insurance was up for discussion but not voted on at the Assembly Transportation Committee Monday.

The bill, A3993, was sponsored by Assemblyman Charles Mainor (D-33) of Jersey City in response to what he said were numerous problems stemming from autobuses, commonly known as jitneys.

“There is a major need (for the legislation),” Mainor said. “Most of the drivers don’t have CDLs (commercial driver’s licenses) and the insurance is not up to par and is not being carefully monitored.”

Mainor’s bill would require autobus drivers to have a commercial driver’s license and undergo a drug test, at the driver or operator’s expense, prior to beginning employment as a driver or operator of an autobus.

The bill would also increase the amount of insurance that a jitney must carry, from $10,000 against loss for damages stemming from bodily injury or death suffered by one person and $100,000 on account of bodily injury or death suffered by more than one person, to a blanket policy requirement of $1.5 million.

But such a drastic increase didn’t sit well with Assemblyman John Amodeo (R-2) of Atlantic City, whose district also sees several jitneys.

“I think it’s an extreme difference,” he said about the added requirements. “These are small business owners.”

But members of the state’s Limousine Association testified in support of the bill, saying it would be a step closer to leveling the playing field in regulations. They argued that jitneys are generally not subject to the same, somewhat stringent regulations that buses, limousines and trucks are required to follow.

“It’s the beginning of how we can apply the same standards from one to another,” said Jeff Roberts of Avalon Limousine.

Mainor said he is open to working with other lawmakers and stakeholders to make “a good bill a great bill.”

 

Autobus driver bill heard in committee