Transit agency's reliance on doughnut shop to open station has commuters railing

Customers of a state-operated transit agency were railing Thursday when the agency admitted it relies on Dunkin’ Donuts employees to unlock the entrance to one of its train stations every morning.

The acknowledgment by NJ Transit, which operates commuter trains and buses in New Jersey, also sparked the latest roasting of the beleaguered agency on social media.

As commuters tweeted their seemingly daily complaints about delayed trains during the morning rush, one rider questioned why the doors to the Hamilton Township train station in Mercer County were still locked.

In its response, NJ Transit seemed to throw Dunkin’ Donuts under the train.

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“Hi Steve,” an NJ Transit employee with the initials "TB" responded on the agency's official Twitter account. “Like previously stated, Dunkin’ Donuts is responsible for opening the doors in the morning at Hamilton station."

The agent then alleged that Dunkin’ had glazed over its responsibility in the past as well, having been reminded “multiple times” by the agency to open the station on time.

Twitter user Jerry Burke then asked a sensible question: "Why is a donut shop in charge of opening a train station?"

"TB" answered that Dunkin's daily duty was stipulated in the vendor's contract it negotiated with the agency.

Dunkin’ normally opens for business at 4:30 a.m., but its workers usually open the train station as early as 4 a.m., the store’s manager told NJ.com. But on ocassions when the employees are late, the station can remain closed until the NJ Transit ticket window opens at 6 a.m. on weekdays.

NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder clarified in a statement that the Dunkin' staff will occasionally open the lobby doors early as a “courtesy” to riders.

Following what some viewed as a half-baked response, commuters creamed the agency on Twitter.

"Is Krispy Kreme in charge of the airport?" one user wrote.

"Hey Jerry, sorry you can't go to work today, the donut guy is hungover again," another cracked.

Access to the station’s platforms is available whether the station building is open or not. There is also a “small area” of the station where customers can stand to take cover from the weather if the doors are not open, Snyder said.

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In recent years, NJ Transit riders have often experienced major delays and unannounced cancellations as the agency deals with updating its old infrastructure, including train cars that leak when it rains.

The agency is still recovering from damage to equipment and infrastructure because of Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and it drew negative national attention in February 2014, when fans attending Super Bowl XLVIII in East Rutherford, N.J., faced delays getting to and from the stadium by rail.