TRENTON – A package of bills sponsored by Senators Joseph F. Vitale and Nicholas J. Sacco to reduce the number of people who use illegal commuter van services and to crack down on those who operate such services was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee today.
“Thousands of poor or immigrant workers are forced to use to use unsafe commuter vans because they have no vehicle of their own or need to work in a location that is not accessible by public transportation,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex. “There is an overwhelming number of illegal van companies operating in New Jersey, and these vans are unregistered, overloaded, and unsafe.”
According to Senator Vitale, “In 2004, 209 vans were stopped for spot inspections and 97% were either issued a safety warning or pulled out of service. In the six years prior to 2005, 1,283 vans were inspected and there were, in total, 7,300 safety violations ranging from bad brakes to using crates for seating,” added Senator Vitale.
“Besides the dangerous conditions of the illegal vans, many workers are forced to use these unsafe forms of transportation as a condition for their employment ,” said Senator Sacco, D-Bergen and Hudson. “Workers should not be forced to put their lives in danger and pay a transportation fee in order to keep their jobs. With this package of bills we will be able to protect the people who ride in these vans as well as keep other motorists on the roads safe.”
The package of bills include:
S-1928, would require the Commissioner of Transportation to establish a public awareness campaign to inform the public about legal commuter transportation services and to improve awareness of transportation options available to the public.
S-1929, would require the Department of Banking and Insurance to study the feasibility of creating a statewide insurance pool for commuter service vehicles in hopes of reducing the cost of insurance for those who operate legal commuter vans, and ultimately reduce fare for the public.
S-1955, would require temporary service agencies to do business with only legal commuter van services, and failure to do so would result in fines.
S- 2059, would triple the fine for operating a commuter van without a certificate of public convenience.
S-2060, would increase the fine to $300 for operators of commuter van services who fail to show a driver’s license, insurance identification card, and or registration.
S-2165, would increase the penalty for not having a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, which is needed to operate commuter buses, to $500 for the first day in violation, $750 for the second day, and $1000 for the third and subsequent days.
The bill now heads to the full Senate before going to the Assembly for consideration.