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LBI Shuttle Success Is Tribute To Forward Thinking
Long Beach Island’s free shuttle buses returned to the Boulevard in late May – first on an abbreviated schedule, then full-time beginning the end of June – with ridership already at approximately 40,000 as August approaches. Eight mini-buses travel the length of the Island daily, accommodating employees, shoppers, diners, bargoers, beachgoers meeting friends and more.
Shuttle hours will remain 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, through Sept. 5.
From Sept. 9 through Oct. 3, the buses will run 3-11 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays.
The buses run north up Long Beach Boulevard and then to Bayview Avenue past Viking Village and to the lighthouse in Barnegat Light. Going south, the buses follow the Boulevard into Beach Haven, and then take Centre Street to Engleside and Atlantic avenues before returning to the Boulevard to head south to Holgate.
To ride the shuttles – which are air-conditioned and handicap accessible – just stand along the Boulevard and wave down one of the buses, each of which is wrapped with a colorful ad. Wait time is five to 20 minutes. The shuttle website, lbishuttle.com, lists the service hours, and an improved smartphone app – “LBI Shuttle” – is available to track the bus locations, cutting down on the wait.
If a trolley is full, which does happen periodically, another one will be along shortly.
“We’re trying to match the capacity with ridership,” said Long Beach Township Commissioner Joseph Lattanzi, who developed the program a few years ago in partnership with the LBI Chamber of Commerce and the other Island municipalities, and with support from Capt. Paul Vereb of the township police department. “We’re definitely full on the weekends and at peak times,” later in the evening, Lattanzi remarked. Mornings until later in the day, the shuttles are less busy.
“We’re still clearly on a growth trajectory, so that makes it difficult because we’re still growing from the popularity of the program. We’re doing the best we can.”
As Lattanzi also noted, the shuttles are still a free ride, but a suggested donation of $2 is requested to help keep the program in operation. “Donations are very light. They’re not anywhere where they need to be,” he pointed out. “If we don’t receive donations to a certain amount, it will make it challenging to avoid a fee.” The matter will be discussed later this year.
“I would encourage people to donate something,” he added. “We’d prefer to keep it voluntary.”
All in all, the commissioner stated, “This is an extremely successful program that runs very efficiently.” The program showcases cooperation between all the Island municipalities. The shuttle service reduces cars on the road in the summer, including drunken drivers, and helps boost commerce. And, the buses can be used in emergencies to transport people off the Island.
In a post-Sandy perspective, Lattanzi believes the program really is “a tribute to forward thinking” in the township.
Article courtesy of www.thesandpaper.net— Juliet Kazsas-Hoch
Photo courtesy of Jack Reynolds
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