By Clayton Guse
Doh! Turns out there's a hole in NJ Transit's operation of a train station near Trenton.
Early morning commuters in Hamilton Township were left out in the rain Thursday because tardy employees at the station's Dunkin' Donuts didn't open up on time.
The Dunkin' workers have the keys to the station building and waiting area -- and are supposed to open it by 6 a.m.
When a rider griped on Twitter that the station building was closed, NJ Transit replied that staffers at the coffee and doughnut chain's outlet were responsible for opening its doors in the morning.
The tweet quickly caught fire online, prompting questions as to why people working at a doughnut shop are responsible for opening a public train station.
An NJ Transit spokeswoman later clarified that the station's ticket office opens at 6 a.m. on weekdays, and Dunkin' employees' failure to open it only affects commuters trying to get inside before then.
The first train from Hamilton to New York departs at 3:54 a.m., and five more New York-bound NJ Transit trains stop there before 6 a.m. The platforms are available whether or not the station building is open.
"NJ Transit has an arrangement with Dunkin Donuts that allows the vendor access to Hamilton station to prepare for business before the station's ticket window officially opens at 6 a.m.," said Nancy Snyder, an agency spokeswoman. "On occasion, staff of Dunkin Donuts, as a courtesy to customers, have unlocked the station doors to allow for entry."
Snyder also pointed out that there is a "small area" of the station where customers can stand protected from the weather regardless of whether the station doors are locked.
After checking with its lawyers, a Dunkin' Donuts representative said the company is aware of the situation.
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