Every morning I walk Rocco down Newark Street, and see NJ Transit buses parked along Newark Street, between Grand and Clinton - just outside the Neumann Leathers building. They seem to be parked for about 5 minutes, and the operators often sit and simply wait. I have witnessed some of the operators leave the bus and go to Dunkin Donuts - leaving their buses unlocked. I took pictures of this over the last month, and posted them on Facebook:
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If this was the suburbs, would NJ Transit buses just park on the sidewalks of other NJ towns? No. The attitude of people who come to Hoboken seems to be a "Who cares" about Hoboken attitude and i'm frankly sick of it. I have written multiple times for cops to set up speed traps & stop sign violators at Newark & Willow. We could rake in a fortune catching people who have no regard for our laws.

So imagine my surprise when Juan Melli, who often bears a lot of criticism from other community run blogs, saw my post and immediately reacted. To be clear, I am friends with Juan on Facebook - but that's about where my association with him ends. I chat with him via email if I have a question and he often directs me in the right direction at City Hall. Now if this was Zimmerhate411.com the naysayers would be shrilling about him being on Facebook in the first place..."Our tax dollars wasted!"

What did Juan do? He said he would write to NJ Transit and get to the bottom of it. I thought that was a nice, if futile, gesture and really didn't think much of it. Imagine my surprise when two weeks later I see this on my walk:
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There were three supervisors from NJ Transit and they were talking to the drivers of the buses. When they were done, I walked up to them and said, "Well you guys are probably out here because of me complaining to Juan."

I want to state one thing - these could have been the nicest, most professional people I have met in my entire life who worked at NJ Transit. One was a regional manager named Jerry M., and he was apologetic and thankful. He apologized that the buses were parked here, and they had no idea this was going on. He was thankful that it was brought to his attention, and very much wanted to address each driver and catch them in the act. Jerry would catch them park their bus, walk up, write down the bus # and the driver and was fixing it as it happened. He gave me his business card and told me, "If you EVER see anything wrong with NJ Transit, I want to hear from you. I don't care if it is 2 in the morning - call me."

Frankly, I was impressed. Not only by NJ Transit but also by Juan Melli in City Hall. We, as citizens, can grouse and complain about everything. That is our right. But I think when credit is due, something that other websites like Grumble411.com does, people should compliment a job well done. I think this is a situation where City Hall got it right. Are there other things City Hall needs to fix? Yes. Can we complain about potholes, crosswalk paint jobs and booting cars - sure. Its one thing to recognize where someone does a bad job - but you should also be someone that also can say these words, too:

Thank you.

Why It Is Time You Embrace UberX

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Unless you have been living under a rock, you probably are already familiar with UberX, the car sharing service. If you aren't familiar with it, it basically is a taxi service, in which you request a UberX car via a smartphone app. The smartphone uses your GPS location (or you can enter it manually), and you can order a car to pick you up and take you to any destination. The driver & the car are owned by private citizens who work for UberX.
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The pricing is competitive. In the case of my testing in Hoboken, I have found its even cheaper than most Hoboken taxis. Let me give you a few examples:

  1. I needed a car on a Saturday morning. I was going on a golf outing, and meeting people to take a bus at 13th street Rite Aid around 5:45 am. I called Indian Way at 5am - asking if a car could be sent to my place at 5:30am. They said, "Oh, just call back 10 minutes before you need a car." I walked Rocco, grabbed some coffee, and called back at 5:20 am. No answer. Called again at 5:25 am. No answer. Called again at 5:30am. No answer. I'm pissed. I can't be late. I didn't think that UberX drivers were up at 5:30am on a Saturday, but flipped open the app - and had a car at my place 3 minutes later. No fuss. No muss. Crisis averted. Interestingly enough the car ride was, with tip, $6. That's what Indian Way costs without tip. I was so happy that the driver helped me out that I gave him an extra $5 cash.

  2. Recently I needed to see a doctor located in Jersey City heights. I don't own a car. Taxi rides outside of Hoboken can be prohibitively expensive. UberX charged me $10 to get up to Kennedy Blvd and $10 back, both with tip included.

  3. Often I rent cars from Avis in Jersey City, at the Newport Mall. I used to take Indian Way - it was a $12 cab ride from my house on Newark Street to the mall. Its less than a mile away. With UberX it costs me $8, with tip.

Also, I should point out that most taxi cabs in Hoboken are very old. They rattle and squeak and the vinyl seats often are gross - and forget about getting a cab with good air conditioning. With UberX most of the cars I have been in are nearly brand-new. The drivers offered me bottled water many times. They are clean and comfortable. The drivers get rated by the UberX application. If a driver cannot maintain a 4.5 star rating - they no longer drive for Uber. The rating system is from the passengers, after each ride you give the driver 1 to 5 stars. 1 star if the service is terrible and 5 stars if the service is fantastic. I have given 5 stars out to about all my rides so far.

The only downside is the surge pricing. They can increase the pricing based on a supply and demand model. Before you request a car, you can get a fare quote, and I often do this, especially if i'm pricing out a car ride to the airport.

As I told UberX drivers repeatedly, if the taxi industry doesn't catch up to this soon, and create a similar app with competitive pricing - they will become a dinosaur.

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