Senator Nick Sacco has introduced legislation to increase the oversight and regulation of commuter vans, often known as jitney buses, in response to a horrific accident that caused the death of Angelie Paredes, an eight-month-old infant from North Bergen. “Angelie’s Law” contains many reforms aimed at improving safety for pedestrians, commuters and all residents of areas where the vans operate. Senator Sacco has been working closely with Assembly members Vincent Prieto and Angelica Jimenez (D-Hudson, Bergen) to identify workable reforms that will enhance public safety. The bill expands on earlier legislation introduced by Assemblyman Charles Mainor (D-Hudson) that focused on insurance and other regulatory requirements. Mainor, Prieto and Jimenez are the sponsors of the companion Assembly bill. The Senate bill was introduced yesterday.
Angelie Paredes died after a jitney bus jumped the curb along Boulevard East in West New York, knocking down a lamppost and striking and killing her. It is alleged that the driver of the commuter van was using his cell phone at the time of the accident and he is facing up to ten years in prison on various charges.
“It is an unspeakable tragedy that took place on the busy streets of Hudson County,” said Sacco (D-Hudson, Bergen), who also serves as Mayor of North Bergen. “My hope is that this legislation will protect passengers and the public alike. I want to make it clear that by introducing this legislation today is just a first step in what I expect to be a long, but deliberative process. I look forward to working with all parties to ensure that this tragedy will not happen again.”
In the wake of the tragedy Senator Sacco has worked with the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, West New York Mayor Felix Roque, other local officials and police departments to step up enforcement of existing traffic and safety laws on the commuter vans.
“Regulating these commuter vans has been a challenge for many years due to their undefined legal status and concerns over jurisdiction, but after this horrific tragedy I feel that action must be taken,” said Sacco. “I would like to thank Assembly members Prieto, Jimenez and Mainor for collaborating with me on this important bill as well as Sheriff Frank Schillari and local law enforcement who have been working to hold these vans accountable under current law. We must do more to prevent tragedies like this and we believe that this bill will go a long way toward that goal.”
Senator Sacco noted that he has had continuing conversations with stakeholders and the public on a number of changes that will be made to the legislation to ensure that residents who use these buses as well as the public are protected. Currently, there are many different jurisdictional issues between state and federal agencies in terms of safety inspections and regulations that need to be considered. Various provisions of the bill are being reviewed by the Office of Legislative Services and a complete bill will be announced once it has been vetted for constitutionality.