New twist on commuting

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:29

Local couple creates a rider service that takes the stress out of the daily drive Hardyston — Driving down Route 23 while juggling a large latte, a BlackBerry and fiddling with the Sirius radio all in the effort to keep that long morning work commute a little more bearable, can be a recipe for a bad morning. A new business called Sussexpress may be the answer to a commuters prayer. Currently using Hardyston as a home base, Sussexpress is a commuter service that runs a daily route into Newark. Commuters are able to park their cars in the park-and-ride located at Cava Winery in Hardyston, hop into a comfortable vehicle and leave the driving to someone else. They say that necessity is the mother of invention and that certainly was the case for owners and operators of Sussexpress, Damian and Kathy Ann O'Connor, who moved to Sussex county seven years ago, but were still working and driving every day into Jersey City. "When we moved up here it was a challenge to commute. We only had one vehicle," says Kathy Ann O'Connor. "When my car broke down we Googled cabs and taxis and were shocked to find they charged $50 just to get to Dover." "Simply because of the hassle we went through, we thought how good it would be to have a commuter service," she says. The O'Connors wanted to do more than just provide a driving service to the commuters of Sussex county. They wanted people to feel comfortable, relaxed and be able to start their work day on the right foot. All too aware of the stress caused by a long commute, the O'Connors say they strive to bring a little bit of pleasure into gridlock. "It was important for us to get a large comfortable van. We thought it would be great if commuters could work on their laptops while going to work," says Kathy Ann O'Connor. "Our motto is, We Take the Hassle Out of Travel — and we mean it," she adds. "We know how complicated people's lives are, and we don't want them to arrive frazzled at work. You have to start the day with a good frame of mind." It's about community A relaxed frame of mind, sense of community and the ability to be economical are goals that the O'Connors have set for their business. Most of their repeat customers own vehicles, yet use the service to avoid paying high parking fees in the city. The commuters also get to catch up with e-mails, work on presentations on their laptop and enjoy that caramel latte while chatting with fellow commuters — a feat that would be impossible if they made the trip in their own vehicles. And, they get to nap. "It's kinda funny, my husband tells me when he picks up everyone they are all like old friends, talking, laughing, asking how everyone is doing, they laugh, they chat, and then within 10 minutes...everyone is fast asleep!" Kathy Ann says. "These people get up so early and work so hard, can you imagine you get to have an extra hour of sleep?" For Kathy Ann O'Connor, the most rewarding aspect of operating Sussexpress is that sense of community. She and her husband were initially drawn to Sussex county for the family oriented atmosphere and she enjoys running a business that provides more than just a service. "Sussexpress is geared towards building a relationship with our community," she says. "There is a closeness you get that you wouldn't get with mass transportation, we accommodate people, if someone forgets their cash one day, that's OK. Our goal is to take the complication out of commuting." Rides from the park and ride by Cava Winery to Penn Station in Newark start at $12.75 per trip. The O'Connors plan to expand Sussexpress by adding another park and ride location. For more information contact Kathy Ann at 1-800-946-4390, e-mail her at or