WEST ORANGE, NJ — Eight months into its service, West Orange’s newest jitney line is satisfying riders and the town’s administration, as the sixth bus continues to travel the Redwood, Pleasantdale and Lourdes neighborhoods to take commuters to the Orange and Brick Church train stations. The line, which makes stops on Pleasant Valley Way at Hooper Avenue and Mississippi Avenue at Harrison Avenue, currently transports an average of 25 passengers in the morning and 30 in the evenings, with only eight passengers taking advantage of the park-and-ride parking lots on Pleasant Valley Way and Woodland Avenue, according to West Orange township engineer Len Lepore.
“It’s been going very well,” Lepore said in a phone interview with the West Orange Chronicle on May 3. “We added a stop at Crown View Manor, because it was a request from the residents who live in those two buildings.”
The jitney route was added to the Redwood, Pleasantdale and Lourdes neighborhoods in September, areas where there had not previously been served. Lepore said there are no current plans to add a seventh route, with most neighborhoods in town covered by the current six.
“For now we’re holding at six,” he said. “We started with two, so we’ve come a long way. We cover a broad section of town with these routes, some where it was not as convenient.”
Marie Armas is one resident who has found the jitney line to be convenient. She has been riding it since January, and it has cut her commuting time down to a little more than an hour, much shorter than it had been.
“I was using the DeCamp bus, but now it’s only an hour or an hour and 15 minutes,” Armas told the Chronicle in a May 4 phone interview, adding that she thinks the new jitney line could attract people looking to move into the neighborhood.
“I was looking for one, so I’m glad they added the stop,” she said. “It’s good for the property and for selling houses in the area. And I have more time to spend with my children” in the morning.
Patty Krakow is another frequent rider of the sixth jitney route, and says that she appreciates that the jitney consistently has the same driver, Laura. Krakow has been using the line since it started in September.
“It’s the same driver the whole time, which I appreciate because some of the other routes change up the drivers and they take time to learn the route,” Krakow said in a phone interview with the Chronicle on May 4. “Laura is friendly, helpful and a super safe driver.”
The sixth jitney has also cut down on Krakow’s commute. Before it started, she would ride the second route, but now she is able to bring her children to their babysitter, who lives near a sixth route stop, and then go straight to the jitney.
“It’s super convenient,” Krakow said. “I would have to drop my kids off and then drive home and park my car in my driveway to take Route 2. This has knocked a half hour off my commute time.”
The time savings is a common theme among residents using the new jitney route, as Veronica Liskiewicz wrote in an email to the Chronicle on May 4.
“I get home so much faster than when I was taking the bus,” Liskiewicz said, adding that prior to the sixth route, “because of my location, I did not have any way to get to another route. My only option was the DeCamp bus or taking an intransitive bus to a train — a very long travel.”
While there seem to be few problems with the new jitney line, commuters do say its phone app and text updates could be better.
“It’s not great,” Krakow said of the app. “You have to log in each time you open it and sometimes it doesn’t work. I deleted it from my phone because it was useless.”
Armas agreed, saying the communication between the jitneys and commuters could be improved.
“Sometimes we don’t get the posts,” she said. “If it’s going to come late, it’s misleading because I could have scheduled something else. The texts are something to improve.”