JERSEY CITY AND BEYOND - Over the last three years, wait times at the Journal Square taxi stand has become a top quality of life complaint for PATH and NJ Transit commuters who live in the communities surrounding the transit hub.
Now, after years of complaints from residents - and just in time for winter - the city is finally addressing the problem with a temporary solution that has already drawn both praise and criticism.
Under a plan announced Wednesday afternoon by Paul Barna, director of the city's Commerce Department, the city has designated the Journal Square to be an "open" taxi stand during the evening hours of 6 p.m. to midnight. At present, the Journal Square taxi stand is a "closed" stand, Barna explained, meaning only a limited number of designated taxis are allowed to pick up passengers. Prior to the changes announced Wednesday, only 36 cabs were permitted to service the Journal Square taxi stand, even during peak hours when demand for cabs was higher.
Now, any city licensed cab company can make pick ups from 6 p.m. to midnight, when Journal Square will become an "open" taxi stand. Car service companies, cabs from other cites, dollar vans, and "gypsy" cabs still will not be allowed to pick up passengers at the Journal Square stand.
The new rules take effect immediately, but expire on February 28, 2012.
"We are opening the stand to allow other cabs to come in to help with the congestion," Barna said, adding that there are 104 legally designated cabs in Jersey City, total.
The City Council unanimously approved the temporary changes at its meeting Wednesday night.
The Department of Commerce, Barna said, has also re-instituted cab-sharing. Cab-sharing allows taxi drivers to pick up a second passenger - with the permission of the first passenger - if the two customers are going in the same direction.
In February the city will evaluate the temporary changes and decide then whether or not to make them permanent. - E. Assata Wright