Jitneys return to Atlantic City Airport Saturday, March 30, 2013. They're resuming service free of charge pending resolution of a cease-and-desist order.

Edward Lea

Jitneys resumed service Saturday to and from the Atlantic City International Airport following a cease-and-desist order issued by the Federal Transit Administration earlier this week.

The South Jersey Transportation Authority, which previously indicated it would revoke its permit to the Atlantic City Jitney Association, has reached an agreement wherein the Jitneys will provide services free of charge while the FTA matter is appealed.

“According to our attorney, that satisfies the definitions set forth by the FTA in their cease-and-desist order,” SJTA spokesman Kevin Rehmann said.

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The shuttles have operated the route since December 2011 at a fare of $10 to Atlantic City and $15 for the prearranged return trip. They currently have a one-year permit that expires in August.

On Monday, the FTA ordered the jitneys to halt all charter services because the association received federal funding for part of its fleet. The association has argued that it paid for 90 of its 190 vehicles and, thus, should be able to continue service.

The FTA’s decision was issued Monday in response to a complaint last year by Five Mile Beach Electric Railway Co., which operates public transportation, including trolleys in Cape May and Wildwood.

Association President Tom Woodruff said his organization filed an appeal Thursday and suspended service Friday.

He has not yet received a response from the FTA, he said, but attorneys for both the SJTA and the association agreed the free service met the definition of the order.

“We’re stakeholders in the city, and it doesn’t make sense for Atlantic City International Airport to be the only airport in the country to not have ground service,” he said.

Rehmann said the free service will continue as an interim measure pending a final determination by the FTA.

Representatives from the FTA did not respond to a request for comment. A representative from Five Mile could not be reached for comment.

Atlantic City Councilman George Tibbitt, one of the supporters of an ordinance that would allow jitneys to operate as private shuttles without city oversight, said their return to the airport is a positive move as they provide inexpensive transportation for the city’s visitors.

“The fact that they’re doing it for free right now is a great community service, especially since right now at the airport the SJTA doesn’t have a vendor that can handle that,” he said.

However, there are still “a lot of unknowns” with regard to the FTA’s order, he said.

“We have to wait for all those lawyers involved to work it out,” he said. “But, no, I’m not worried at all in what they’re doing.”

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