Who Needs a Station Car? Supplemental Suburban Transit Solutions


Microsoft Connector vans pull into Overlake Transit Center in Redmond, WA. The Connector is a free service for employees. Image courtesy of AtOMicNebula/Flickr under Creative Commons License.

Glen Ridge, NJ, has a public shuttle service to ferry commuters to the local train station. Image courtesy of Erin Roll and Glen Ridge Voice


It’s a common problem—you’re a commuter who lives in the suburbs and wants to take public transit to work in the nearby city, but you live just a little too far from the train station to walk, especially in bad weather. Add parking permit fees to that, assuming there are any spots left at the train station, and commuters might just be frustrated enough to give in and drive themselves to work. What if there was another way to get there?

If you live in Maplewood, NJ, there is. The Maplewood Jitney is only available to residents of the town, and costs $85 annually, or riders can pay $1 each way if they don’t have a yearly permit. There are currently three routes that run six times in the morning and eight times during the evening rush hour, taking residents to the local New Jersey Transit (NJT) train station. As of May 2013, the Maplewood Jitney serves about 350 riders during each rush hour. The town is considering purchasing another 40-passenger bus, in addition to the one 40-passenger and two 28-passenger shuttles that are currently in use.

Nearby Glen Ridge, NJ, also has a shuttle service to ferry commuters to the local NJT station. It only makes designated stops and won’t stop for people who try to flag it down. A monthly pass costs $25, or residents can buy a 10-trip book for $20, while single rides cost $3 (exact change only). Glen Ridge currently has two shuttle buses that run in loops through the North End and South End neighborhoods.

Commuters to Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, WA, can take advantage of the company’s free shuttle service, called the Connector, which has been running since 2007. There are currently 23 routes that serve employees who live in the Seattle/Redmond area, moving about 1,200 workers to campus during the morning commute. The original five routes were intended to fill gaps in the area’s regular public transit service. Each employee makes a reservation to ensure that they get a seat on the shuttle. There are 53 Connector buses, 49 of which are usually on the road (the others are extras for when there is an increase in ridership due to bad weather or traffic). Like many municipalities that have jitney/shuttle services, Microsoft contracts an outside vendor to provide them. The vehicles are equipped with Wifi and some have bike racks, cup holders, and on-board power.

Aside from convenience, the use of shuttles services helps cut down on greenhouse gas emissions from single-occupancy vehicles. It also seems like a pleasant way to get to know your cubicle neighbors.