The word "jitney" is a slang word for nickel, which is what it cost in 1915 for a ride in one of Atlantic City's earliest buses. Even though the price has increased over the years, the name stuck and today you can still hop on a jitney to travel around Atlantic City.
The first jitneys in Atlantic City date to March 1915 and looked very similar to regular cars. They were large, black Ford model-T touring cars which used a rope-and-pulley system to open the back doors. Over the years, there have been more than eight different designs and at least four different colors for the Atlantic City jitneys. The current version, introduced in 1997, is a thirteen-passenger light-blue mini-bus by Champion Motor Coach. In 1982, a retired 1963 jitney was donated to the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History.
An Atlantic City jitney, ca. 1997. (Photograph
|The Atlantic City Jitney Association, established in 1915, claims to be the longest-running unsubsidized transit company in the United States. Each jitney is individually owned and operated, and drivers keep the fares. The Association awards the franchises and regulates the appearance of the buses and drivers; the Association also issues fines for violations and holds its own traffic court.By Atlantic City ordinance, the number of jitney franchises is limited to 190. City ordinance also regulates the price per trip and controls the jitney routes.
Most of the jitneys routes run along Pacific Avenue. A jitney shuttle also runs from the Atlantic City Train Station to the various Casinos. For jitney routes and prices, please visit the Atlantic City Jitney Association website.
|Jitney with driver posing. (1950, H009.388.4Jit1011; ACFPL Heston Collection)|
City of Atlantic City. City Ordinances, 1915-1917, 1920, 2008, and other years.
A.M. Heston, compiler. Clippings: trolley and jitney wars of Atlantic City 1888-1889, 1915-1916.
"Jitneys of Atlantic City." Motor Coach Today, vol. 4, no. 2 (April –June 1997).
"The Vogue of the Jitney." The Detective, vol. XXI, part 11 (June 1915).
Please see the Heston Collection Indexes at the Reference Desk to locate photographs and postcards on this subject.
Subjects to Search in Library Catalog:
Street-railroads -- New Jersey -- Atlantic City.
Transportation -- New Jersey -- Atlantic City.
Atlantic City (N.J.) -- Local transit.