Things are looking up for the Wyoming branch of the Maplewood Jitney, which was in danger of being cut in June.
The jitney—which had serviced Maplewood Township for over 12 years—was extended to the Wyoming section of Millburn this January, but was largely unused. The jitney stops at Glen Avenue and Cyprus Street as well as Wyoming Avenue and Maple Street.
Charlie Bibbins, Maplewood Transportation Committee chairman, said ridership has increased in the past month thanks to local media coverage of the situation. The jitney has gone from serving one rider per day to around eight. He said that his committee was planning on recommending that the Wyoming extension be cut, but now they are giving it a second chance.
“More people are aware of it and that’s good news,” he said.
The publicity elicited a reaction among residents and town officials. Bibbins said Maplewood’s Department of Public Works received phone calls from many curious Wyoming residents. Daniel Baer, a Township Committee member, has also taken an active role in ensuring the jitney’s survival.
Baer said he felt the one of the biggest problems with the jitney is the lack of public knowledge about the service, which he plans to combat by soliciting Wyoming residents who currently hold parking passes at the Millburn train station. Since the Maplewood station is the same distance or closer for many Wyoming residents, they could benefit from the jitney.
“For this to work, you have to target the right market,” he said.
Another major flaw of the jitney is the inconvenient stop locations. Both Baer and Bibbins said there were plans to move the stops closer to potential riders, which shouldn’t take long after getting police approval.
“Within a month, we should have some good news,” Bibbins said.
Eric Burbank, Maplewood Department of Public Works director, said the township was also looking to tweak the schedule so that it aligns more closely with the Midtown Direct trains, which take commuters straight from New York Penn Station to Maplewood.
Jennifer Duckworth, Millburn Environmental Commission chairwoman, suggested that the jitney could be used by more than just commuters. She said she knew of nannies who take the jitney between towns and one woman who takes it to the Kings in Maplewood so that she does not have to lug her groceries home.
“You could even go to the movies or something,” she said.