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Jersey City Set To Roll Out 6-Passenger Via Ride-Sharing Buses

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- You've heard of and probably used ride-sharing cars to get around. But what about a ride-sharing bus that comes to you?

Well, as CBSN New York's Nina Kapur reported, it's something Jersey City is taking on.

With the touch of a screen, riders can call a six-passenger bus to pick them up and drop them off at their destination for just $2.

Jersey City announced its partnership with the ride-sharing company Via on Thursday, making the on-demand bus venture the state's first city-run bus system. The idea comes in the wake of Mayor Steven Fulop saying NJ TRANSIT continues to provide unreliable service to the city.

"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," Fulop said in a press release. "This is the latest step towards our larger vision of getting cars off the road, while creating mobility in neighborhoods that sometimes lack connectivity to other parts of the city."

Riders can download the Via app, or, for those without access to a smartphone, call a phone number to request or schedule a ride. Riders will be given a convenient location within walking distance for the bus to pick them up. And wait times should be no longer than 12 to 15 minutes. Riders can pay through the app or with cash on the bus.

"It's a form of ride sharing but has a few notable differences. As Mayor Fulop alluded to, you walk a few blocks to a nearby pick-up and that makes the overall system much more efficient," said Alex Lavoie, head of Via's U.S. operations.

Jersey City Via
(credit: CBS2)

It's important to note the service will only be available outside downtown, as it aims to serve those that have less access to public transportation. Ultimately, the city said it wants to cut back on its carbon footprint, encourage carpooling and eventually reduce congestion.

The service will first be offered on weekdays and be bumped up as demand increases.

"We view it as one of our responsibilities as government is to provide services and mass transit, is one of those key services," Fulop said on Thursday. "If people can't get to work, they won't be able to perform well or have access to those jobs and they won't be able to move forward or upwards in life."

Fulop said the new system is really aimed at helping commuters who have been dealing with overcrowded buses and NJ TRANSIT scheduling issues.

Jersey City is taking on the $2 million cost of getting 14 buses out on the streets within the next three months. Service will operate Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m.

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