It is simple. It is the roads.
The fact that I can leave my work in Millburn, Essex County, and make it to our Toms River screening in nearly the same time as my girlfriend, who works in Delanco, Burlington County, is why Toms River (and many other towns in northern Ocean County) is different than the other South Jersey towns that are greatly tied to Philadelphia.
McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Military Bases & the Pine Barrens essentially create a barrier that inhibits a major road connecting the South Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia to Toms River and the nearby beach communities there. . .
Routes 70, 72 & 38? They are sluggish alternatives (especially in the summer), though she will probably NOT take the way google maps suggested and will just stick to those roads. . . like it or not.
But again, the roads are key - and I may be able to beat her there (if I can make it over the Driscoll Bridge in time). And that's crazy, but it is what could point Toms River more "North" - the all powerful Parkway.
According to google maps:
Millburn to Toms River screening - 1 hr 20 minutes
Delanco to Toms River screening - 1 hr 19 minutes
And what about those neighboring beaches in Toms River? Well, in the summer, many Burlington County people go farther south to the beaches - because it's faster, while people from North Jersey prefer those neighboring Toms River beaches (or ones north of them).
Let's suppose she got off work on a warm Friday and went right to the beach:
Delanco to Seaside Heights - 1 hr 32 minutes
Delanco to Surf City (LBI) - 1 hr 42 minutes
But the smoothest ride to the beach (and the spot she usually went to) . . . .
Delanco to Margate City (Atlantic County) - 1hr 31 minutes
Nice 295 & AC Expressway fast ride if done correctly.
But the closest?
Delanco to Belmar (Monmouth County) - 1 hr 7 minutes
So why doesn't she (and other Burlington County) people go there?
Because this is New Jersey. We go "Down the Shore" . . . . not "Up the Shore."