State Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, recently asked the state transportation commissioner for help expanding public transportation in the “underserved” area of Atlantic, Cumberland and Cape May counties.

In a letter sent Jan. 23 to Jamie Fox, the state transportation commissioner and chairman of the South Jersey Transportation Auth-ority board, Van Drew requested assistance from the SJTA.

“Our tri-county region needs additional public transportation services to supplement the current options being provided by NJ Transit,” Van Drew said in his letter.

Van Drew said there isn’t enough usage in the area for NJ Transit to add more routes. He said the SJTA has been successful in Glou-cester and Camden counties and would like to “see some success here as well.”

In his letter, Van Drew said the area has the highest rate of joblessness in the state, the lowest per-capita income and ex-tremely high rates of poverty. He said the lack of mobility for residents in this area harms both their economic and educational opportunities.

“It’s one of the biggest challenges in our area,” Van Drew said. “I would like to start a process and evaluate what we can do.”

Van Drew said he has not heard back from the SJTA because he just sent the letter.

A representative from the SJTA said he had not seen the letter and could not comment.

In his letter, Van Drew said hundreds of people work in Atlantic City but live in Cumberland County and rely on public transit. He said they have to take a bus from Vineland to Pleasantville and then transfer to complete the last leg of the trip to Atlantic City.

“This is an arduous and time-consuming commute,” he said in his letter.

He also said local students attending Atlantic Cape Community College have trouble finding transportation between the two campuses in Atlantic and Cape May counties. He said students attending Rowan University and Richard Stockton College have similar issues.

“This hurts our South Jersey students by providing them less access to educational opportunities,” he said. “I believe we can do better.”

Contact Christian Hetrick:

609-272-7215

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