NJ Transit drivers rally for jitney bus regulation in wake of fatal West New York crash
WEST NEW YORK - New Jersey Transit bus drivers gathered in West New York today, demanding that jitney bus drivers need a code of conduct after an infant was killed by a distracted bus driver on a cellphone last July.
Commuter buses serve 300,000 passengers in Hudson County a day, but drivers aren't trained, nor are they regulated by the state.
The transit drivers met at the site where 8-month-old Angelie Paredes was killed when the driver of a jitney bus was on a phone when the vehicle hit a light pole. That pole subsequently landed on the child.
STORIES: Fatal West New York crash
"We need uniform transportation codes that these Jitneys have to fall in just like all the rest of mass transit," says Assemblyman Vince Prieto.
The NJ Transit drivers say the jitney drivers are out of control, going up and down Boulevard East. They say there is no oversight, and they fight for fares.
Transit drivers say if jitneys had a code of conduct, a tragedy like the one that happened to Angelie could have been avoided.
NJ Transit Union President Pablo Gonzalez called for cameras on the buses and a strict cellphone policy.
The law being proposed in Trenton would force drivers to get commercial drivers licenses, go through drug testing and have $1.5 million worth of insurance coverage.
Jitney owners say they're for reforms, but they argue there are too many competing companies on the road.
Driver Idowu Daramola is facing a charge of death by auto in Angelie's death. Her father, who was at the rally today, quietly supports attempts at change.