Maplewood Jitney riders are mad, and some say they aren’t going to take it anymore.
Since New Jersey Transit train schedules changed last fall (and Hurricane Sandy damaged some trains), evening rush hour trains have been frequently late arriving in Maplewood.
The problem, some riders say, is jitney drivers are refusing to wait for delayed trains, leaving riders stranded and frustrated.
In addition, some jitney lines have become overcrowded.
“People are really angry,” said Frank Verderosa, who rides the Parker Avenue jitney daily.
Some riders started a petition about the issue and posted it at the train station.
Eric Burbank, director of the Maplewood Department of Public Works, has scheduled a meeting for Saturday, Feb. 9 at 11 a.m. at Maplewood Town Hall (in the Main Meeting Room).
“The meeting is basically for me to listen to what the concerns are and to see if we can come up with some solutions,” said Burbank.
The township recently added an additional bus on the Parker Jitney route to alleviate overcrowding. Burbank said the problem of buses waiting for late trains is harder to address. If drivers wait for one very late train, “they will be late for the next train, and so on and so on.”
Verderosa said the 6:10 p.m. and the 6:19 p.m. trains arrive consistently late to Maplewood, but the jitneys will not wait for the late trains.
“There are many nights where the jitney has left when the train is only a couple of minutes late,” Verderosa said, leaving commuters to find a ride, call a cab, or wait a half hour for the next jitney.
“The (trains) are not only often late to arrive... but they are overcrowded every night,” said Verderosa, “so now you've got frustrated commuters who just stood for 45 minutes getting off the train a few minutes late to find that they've been abandoned. Insult to injury.”
Art Christensen of the Maplewood Concierge Company has offered to let commuters who know they will be a few minutes late call the concierge to ask jitney drivers to wait.
Burbank said that might work if trains are just a few minutes late, but not if they are considerably late.