Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 18
 
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
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Jitney Contract Extended; Council and Staff Consider New Locations and Uses

Dilshanie Perera

In operation since April 2008, the Borough’s FreeB Jitney shuttle service has seen 4,851 rides in its first year, Administrator Robert Bruschi reported at the Council meeting last Tuesday.

Voting to extend the contract for “administrative oversight and operation” with Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association (TMA) until June 30 of this year, Council also asked about using the shuttle to connect to more of the town.

Currently, the FreeB is in operation from 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., and 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays, and connects the town to the Dinky Station. It departs Borough Hall and traverses a route that includes Library Place, Hodge Road, Paul Robeson Place, Wiggins Street, Hamilton Avenue, Harrison Street, Nassau Street, Mercer Street, Alexander Street, and University Place.

When Council member David Goldfarb asked whether the shuttle could “reach out to underserved areas,” Mr. Bruschi said that they are assessing what current transit needs are in higher density areas in the Borough and Township, like Elm Court and Spruce Circle.

With that information, they will be able to put together a tentative schedule and route that would encompass a greater area, Mr. Bruschi said, adding that the commuter hour schedule is dictated by New Jersey Transit.

Under the agreement, NJTransit is lending the Borough a shuttle for three years, as well as matching up to $30,000 for the shuttle’s operation for the first year, $20,000 for the second year, and $10,000 for the third. Princeton University is also contributing funding.

Currently, A-1 Limousine operates the FreeB, while Greater Mercer TMA administers it, but the Borough administration is recommending that starting July 1, Stout’s Inc. of Ewing operate the jitney, with Greater Mercer TMA continuing to administer it.

“The prices will cut operational costs by half,” Mr. Bruschi noted.

Stout’s proposed an operating expense of $5,350 per month, and Borough administration is recommending that the bid be accepted for a 3-year contract.

At the meeting, resident Jenny Crumiller noted that many passengers on the jitney have expressed interest in adding service to the Princeton Shopping Center. Mr. Bruschi noted that it is a destination that will be considered, and that it is likely that the morning and evening schedule would be changed by NJTransit in the near future.

“Information is the key,” Mr. Bruschi said, adding that he hopes to further integrate the FreeB service with the University shuttles so that “by making transfers, people could really get around this town.”

Campus shuttles, called Tiger Transit, are available for public use. In a recent presentation to Borough merchants, Community and Regional Affairs Director Kristin Appelget noted that one of the campus shuttle routes now runs directly from the Dinky station to Palmer Square, and that all shuttles can be followed in real time through GPS tracking at the website princeton.transloc.com.

“GPS would be a nice function to get on our vehicle,” Mr. Bruschi said at the meeting.

The FreeB saw 560 riders in the last full month of its operation. The current schedule and route map can be found online at www.princetonboro.org/jitney.cfm.

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