The following news release was sent by the office of Assembly members John McKeon and Mila Jasey (both D-Essex/Morris).
Assembly members John McKeon and Mila Jasey (both D-Essex/Morris) are working with residents and NJ Transit on solutions to ease the crippling transportation situation for Manhattan-bound commuters in the 27th legislative district.
Jasey and McKeon have reached out to NJ Transit officials with a number of suggestions to ease the nightmare commutes to New York City, which residents in South Orange, Maplewood and West Orange, in particular, are facing as a result of the damage caused by Sandy. The lawmakers asked that every effort be made to accommodate the worthwhile suggestions, a number of which came directly from residents and local elected officials.
“This storm has created unprecedented challenges for residents throughout the Garden State,” said McKeon. “Returning to their normal routines this week is a lot easier said then done given the fact that many commuters are having trouble just getting to work. We’ve been working in concert with residents and our local officials and hopefully NJ Transit will heed many of the suggestions we have presented to them to help provide some temporary relief until our transportation system is fully operational again.”
“The massive public transportation shortage produced by Sandy’s destruction is being felt hard in our district where we have a high number of New York-bound commuters,” said Jasey. “Residents should know that we are here for them and we are working hard to address these concerns. Our doors and phone lines are also open to help field any other concerns or questions they might have.”
With hundreds of commuters lined up at the Sloan Street bus stop to get to work this morning, Jasey and McKeon asked NJ Transit to expand bus service by adding additional buses to the #107 express bus route that runs from the South Orange train station at Sloan and Second Street, as well as the Valley St/First Street stop in South Orange, to the Port Authority terminal in New York City.
McKeon and Jasey noted that South Orange alone has 12 jitneys that transport residents to the train station.
In light of this, they have asked NJ Transit whether it has the ability to arrange a drop-off location that can be used to transport commuters to New York City directly via the jitneys.
The lawmakers have also reached out to Community Coach/USA bus company to ascertain whether jitneys can be used to increase service on bus route #77, which transports primarily West Orange and Livingston commuters from the Codey Arena to the Port Authority.
Jasey and McKeon noted that the South Orange Train Station, which provides Midtown Direct Service, is one of the busiest stops on the Morris and Essex line. However, the entire line is down due to damage from the storm and estimates have yet to be given as to when rail service will be resumed. Along with the Maplewood Station, NJ Transit serves thousands of commuters daily.
Due to its proximity, West Orange and Livingston use their jitney service to enable residents to access midtown direct service from South Orange.
“For South Orange's 3,800-plus New York City commuters, finding some options to help get folks into the city in a timely fashion is a high priority for the village, and I know a very high priority for our state representatives, who we're lucky to have as partners advocating and thinking of creative solutions that will help bring some relief to our commuters,” said Alex Torpey, South Orange Village President.
As McKeon and Jasey await consideration of their requests by both NJ Transit and private sector bus carriers, they have also been working around the clock to help storm-battered residents in the 27th legislative district deal with a myriad of issues as New Jersey continues to recover from Superstorm Sandy.
McKeon is hoping to push pending legislation (A-2860) that he has introduced, which would require nursing homes and assisted living residences to have emergency generators in place to help minimize disruptions to some of New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents. Jasey intends to join McKeon in sponsoring the legislation.
Both lawmakers witnessed a number of power outages at assisted living facilities throughout their district in the aftermath of Sandy.
In addition to encouraging residents to contact their offices if they are having problems, the lawmakers also provided a listing of important emergency contact information to help residents address their needs directly:
· FEMA – To register to receive assistance: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or visit:www.disasterassistance.gov/
· Volunteering - 1-800-Jersey-7 (1-800-537-7397)
· Port Authority of NY & NJ - 201-595-4530 or 201-595-4531
· Pet Rescue - 1-855-407-4787 (1-855-407-HSUS)
· 24/7 Health Experts - 2-1-1
· Food Safety/Water Safety - 1-866-234-0964
· Report Price Gouging - 862-209-0130 or 973-220-3474
· Disaster Mental Health Helpline - (toll free) 1-877-294-HELP (4357) or 2-1-1
· Statewide Hurricane Sandy Business Recovery Assistance - 1-866-534-7789 or visit:http://www.nj.gov/njbusiness/
· For Gas Stations to Report Service Delivery Problems - call: 609-858-6900 or email:SandyGas@njeda.com
· Assemblyman McKeon’s Office: (P) 973-275-1113 or (E) AsmMcKeon@njleg.org
· Assemblywoman Jasey’s Office: (P) 973-762-1886 or (E) AswJasey@njleg.org