A fleet of jitneys will give visitors to Avalon and Stone Harbor a new way to get around this summer.
“We liked the idea of a public transportation alternative that’s green and safe,” said John O’Dea, president of the Avalon Chamber of Commerce.
Avalon and Stone Harbor saw the success of similar programs in places such as Sea Isle City and decided to look into it, O’Dea said. That led to discussions with the Atlantic City Jitney Association and plans to run a jitney route between the two towns that share Seven Mile Beach in Cape May County.
The jitneys will roll into the towns Memorial Day weekend and eventually begin running from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week from the end of June through Labor Day. O’Dea said the jitneys will give visitors a way to get to the island’s stores, bars and restaurants without having to drive.
The need for an alternative became clear as more people requested the service, said Jean Miersch, office coordinator for the Stone Harbor Chamber of Commerce.
“At the chamber, we get to hear from people about what is missing. The last couple of years it became clear that transportation up and down the island was very much missing,” she said.
Sea Isle City operated a jitney route last year, and Mayor Len Desiderio said the service was popular among tourists.
“It was a huge success, and we were happy we were able to bring the jitneys from Atlantic City to Sea Isle City,” Desiderio said. “It’s a great way of moving people around the community.”
Sea Isle is bringing the vehicles back this summer and plans to use them this weekend during the city’s Polar Plunge, an event that draws about 50,000 people in the middle of winter.
Desiderio said the jitneys allow visitors to park and stay put.
“All shore communities have a parking problem, so the jitneys were a welcome addition,” he said.
Miersch said Tom Hand, owner of Fred’s Tavern in Stone Harbor, was active in trying to get the jitneys on the island last year, but the program didn’t come together in time.
“I really think it’s going to grow,” Miersch said.
Scott Wahl, public information officer for Avalon and Stone Harbor, said the jitney plan has the support of both local governments, which will help promote the jitneys.
The fare will be $2 from 6 to 11 p.m. and $4 for late-night service until 2 a.m.
Wahl said the route will include Dune Drive/Second Avenue and Ocean Drive from 20th Street in Avalon to 96th Street in Stone Harbor.
He added that the jitneys use compressed natural gas, making them eco-friendly.
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