New Jersey commuters who have been taking the bus into New York after Sandy halted train service are returning to their park-and-ride lots to find tickets on their cars.
The park-and-ride lot near exit 109 on the Garden State Parkway in Lincroft, N.J. had already been growing more crowded since toll increases went into effect this year, but the storm has drastically limited the available space.
Commuters who normally take NJ Transit are flocking to the lots to take Academy buses, which are cross-honoring NJT tickets.
The lot normally has 400 spaces, but on Wednesday, Academy Buses counted more than 800 cars. Drivers created makeshift places for their vehicles, planting them on the grass or squeezing into tight spots -- and they paid for it.
Kim Bracken returned Wednesday evening to find a ticket on her car in the grass after taking the three-hour bus ride back home.
"I was here at 6 in the morning, and all the spots are usually open," she said. "They're all taken up now because the train is closed."
Another driver said, "Under the circumstances, you know, it's kind of a special situation. We got hit pretty hard in this area, so it seems a bit insensitive."
Mike Farley of Little Silver suggested a warning might help drivers think twice without exacerbating existing post-storm aggravation.
"I think it would be nice to just put a notice on people's dashboards the first time and let them know," he said.
The ticketing has also raised questions of selective enforcement. Ray Bouton of Brick said he expected a ticket when he left his car up on an embankment, but found none when he returned.
"Everybody's in a tough situation here, and we're just trying to cope," he said.
The Turnpike Authority is aware of the overcrowding and suggests park-and-riders use the commuter lot at the PNC Arts Center, which has more space. But some who park year-round in Lincroft are protesting the ticketing at a time when they're trying to get back to normal.
"Hey governor, maybe you can talk to the troopers and ask them to take it easy," said Bouton. "People from New Jersey have been hit hard enough."
State police maintain that if people are parking hazardously or blocking fire lanes, they will have no choice but to continue ticketing or even towing them.