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Updated: Irate Commuters Talk Back to New Jersey Transit, NJT Notes 1000 More Seats

South Orange station serves commuters from West Orange, Livingston; Maplewood riders also affected

Mona Sethi is angry enough to spit. New Jersey Transit's new commuter schedule, which took effect on Monday, has "added stress and taken away time" from Sethi's daily routine. The Livingston resident commutes daily from the South Orange station where she says many commuters are unhappy.

The schedule shows South Orange losing non-stop trains heading out of the city, though more trains than previously now stop at Mountain Station.  In addition, scheduled departures have been altered, wreaking havoc with some residents' home schedules.

New Jersey Transit noted that the changed schedules adds a new train, the 6653 (leaving New York at 5:48 p.m.), and 1000 additional seats at peak evening rush hour.  Spokeswoman Nancy Snyder said, "We are listening," urging commuters to contact the agency with their feedback. The changes, she said, come in response to commuter concerns about overcrowding, and allow for more seating, less crowding, and more transfer options.

Maplewood resident Jennifer Weiss-Wolf is blunt. "The evening is a disaster," she says.  "Last night I took the 6:19 – which is an early departure for me. The prior 6:20 got in at around 6:55; the new 6:19 is a  dreadful single-decker local that creeps and crawls and is jam-packed. Last night it arrived in Maplewood at around 7:10."

South Orange Trustee and daily commuter Mark Rosner notes, "It makes no sense to offer less express trains to South Orange than it did previously." Not only are Maplewood and South Orange in the top three for state ridership, says Rosner, but Livingston and West Orange run jitneys to South Orange.

One of the selling points of South Orange is the easy commute. The New York Times last year cited the community's three greatest attributes: the rich and varied architecture, the demographic diversity, and the easy commute into Manhattan.

Likewise, Livingston recently launched a mall-to-station shuttle bus.

Rosner notes that in an effort to correct problems of overcrowding on some trains New Jersey Transit has created additional trouble. "I urge everyone to write or call New Jersey Transit and demand that they make some adjustments.  While we all agree the overcrowding was a problem," says Rosner, "there is no reason to make such drastic changes to our commute."

Weiss-Wolf concurs. "My commute is now a scheduled 16 minutes longer in the evening. It is missed time with kids, later dinner, hard to time getting home for 7pm meetings." Both she and Rosner agree. "Every minute counts."

Douglas Newman October 18, 2012 at 11:34 PM
NJ Transit sometimes responds to strong and angry push back from its ridership. I recommend skipping its customer service center and complaining directly to its senior management: Senior Director, Community & Government Relations - John C. Leon jleon@njtransit.com or 973-491-8098 Senior Director, Customer Service & Transit Information - Anthony Grieco agrieco@njtransit.com And, if they're unresponsive complaints should be escalated to: Board Chairman - James Simpson Executive Director - James Weinstein NJ TRANSIT Corporation One Penn Plaza East Newark, NJ 07105-2246 (973) 491-8800 (Board Inquires) (973) 491-7071 (Fax) E-mail Board: njtboard@njtransit.com
Marian Raab October 19, 2012 at 11:48 AM
Folks--Keep the pressure on NJT because it works. About 7 or 8 years ago, I led a group of concerned commuters that successfully pressured NJT to restore the only morning rush hour express train from Maplewood to Hoboken that was just unceremoniously cut from the schedule with no advance notice. Getting local public officials to help is key. Glad to hear that South Orange officials, including Village President Alex Torpey and our state assembly representatives, are also lobbying NJT about this. Maplewood needs to jump in too. http://southorange.org/notices.asp?guid=b5cc4d1d
David Solomon October 19, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Thanks for posting NJT senior management contact info. This is hard to come by and NJT is clearly not responsive to email, phone or Twitter. While customer service offices staff are helpful it's apparently a fruitless effort filling out the complaint forms
Marcia Worth (Editor) October 19, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Thank you. I had trouble finding this info.
Mark Maynard-Parisi October 19, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Marcia, thank you for the article, and Doug, thank you for the added contact info. I have just sent a comment to both customer service and Mr. Grieco directly. Spread the word. This new schedule makes no sense.
Kevin October 19, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Would be nice if NJ was building the tunnel that's needed to be able to increase the number of direct trains for multiple cities...
Scott Greenstone October 21, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Pass on the petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/john-c-leon-nj-transit-senior-director-community-government-relations-restore-previous-levels-of-express-service-to-south-orange-station-3
Lou H November 05, 2012 at 11:57 AM
Just wanted to correct a quote in the article, a claim that "Not only are Maplewood and South Orange in the top three for state ridership". The figures I saw put them at 15th and 13th, respectively.

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