OPINION: Did private car service gouge after storm?

By Kevin Canessa Jr.

I can’t deny that Thursday, Feb. 9, felt a little like being a kid again. The weather was bad enough for us to have a “snow day,” though all of us instead worked from home. Still, it was nice not to have to get to the office – and to be able to work from the friendly confines of home.

The next day, however, all that good feeling went away as I prepared to leave home for the office.

Before I get to my main points, a few prefaces.

First, I take Uber or Lyft to the office every day for the most part. And I take it home some days. I’ve even used the pages of this newspaper to say I find these two ride services to be the best “inventions” of this decade. But what happened Friday was nothing short of highway robbery.

My trip to the office is about a mile long. On a normal day, the cost for a ride to the office is $6.75. But on Friday, my choices were limited. Uber didn’t have any cars in the area to get me to the office. Lyft did. The cost to make the one-mile journey? $26.25. You read that right. $26.25 for a one-mile trip, more than four times the normal cost.

I understand on days where the demand for rides is high and the number of drivers is limited that the prices are going to jump. But this was just absurd. For the heck of it, I checked JetBlue to see what the cost of a one-way flight would be from Newark to West Palm Beach, Fla., where I am hoping to go for a week sometime in March. (Hey, it’s time for Spring Training.)

A one-way seat: $79.

You get my point by now?

These ride services are great for the most part. But when you’re a loyal rider – someone who uses the service every weekday – $26.25 to go from Beech St. (between Columbia and Laurel Aves.) to Seeley and Kearny Aves.?

No thanks.

You’ve been warned.

Odds & ends

Snow removal on Kearny Ave. in 2017.

• I was thinking back to a bad storm – it may have been a blizzard – in 1996. Channel 9, when it actually had a news bureau, would rate towns’ plowing efforts on a 1 to 5 plow basis, 1 being brutal, 5 being excellent.

That year, Kearny got 1 plow in the first storm of the year.

If that system were still in place, Kearny would have received 5 plows after last week’s storm.

By 3 p.m., Friday, Feb. 10, Kearny Ave. was in tremendous shape, plowed curb to curb, for the most part. Davis and Schuyler Aves., and Elm St. – other emergency roads – were also in good shape, despite having not been plowed curb to curb.

Far too often, the folks who clear our streets only hear it when they do a bad job. Well, this go round, they did a fantastic job – and they deserve to be praised for it. Well done, DPW, KPD and all others who had a hand in making the streets not just passable, but extremely safe and passable. Here’s to 5 plows! Ya done good, James Francis.

• Hmmm, missed the Grammys Sunday night. Oh well.

• For baseball fans, are there any greater words after a long winter than “Pitchers & Catchers?”

• Kearny’s sesquicentennial website – www.kearny150.org – is now alive and well on the web. Check it out when you can for all the information you could want to know about the towns 150th anniversary.

• The Town of Kearny has contracted with Swift911 to offer residents a new, advanced reverse 911 system. Kearny residents who are Verizon customers with landline phones will be automatically included. All others (and Verizon customers who want to register emails or mobile numbers) can sign up with landlines from other companies, VOiP numbers, mobile numbers and email addresses to get the alerts under multiple formats.

I can already attest to this being a tremendous system. During the storm last week, I received several calls, emails and texts about parking procedures, snow removal and the like.

Want to sign up? First go to the KPD’s Facebook page and like it if you haven’t already at www.facebook.com/KearnyPolice. Then, click on the link near the Swiftreach graphic several posts down from the top. In just a few minutes, you’ll be on your way to getting essential emergency alerts as they happen in town.

• That’s all for now. See you back here in a few weeks!

The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the writer, Kevin Canessa Jr. Feedback is welcome and encouraged. Reach Canessa by email at kc@theobserver.com.

Kevin Canessa Jr. | Observer Correspondent & Webmaster

Kevin Canessa Jr. is a journalist and webmaster at The Observer. He is responsible for the editorial content on the newspaper's website, the production of the e-Edition, covering the Nutley Police Department and more behind the scenes. From 2006 to 2008, he served as the editor of The Observer, where he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video for the very first time. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Fla., for four years until February 2016 and recently moved back to Kearny to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.