NJ Transit considering ways to save bus service in cities
🚐 Coach USA's ONE Bus ending service
🚐 NJ Transit is trying to figure out how it can modify existing routes
🚐 Coach said it is talking to officials and NJ Transit
NJ Transit is “disappointed” in Coach USA’s decision to discontinue the ONE Bus routes but is working on trying to pick up the slack.
Coach USA announced it will end service on O.N.E. Bus' three routes in Newark, Elizabeth and Orange on October 8 because of decreasing ridership, driver shortages and inflationary pressures on its operating expenses, according to Newel Scoon, vice president of the East for Coach USA.
Will NJ Transit pick up Coach USA bus routes?
NJ Transit, which stepped in when DeCamp ended its commuter service in Essex County by modifying four existing routes, said it is looking at how can do the same thing with ONE. The agency said it was "disappointed" at the lack of advance notice for riders. The company had already reduced service earlier this year.
"Part of NJ Transit’s assessment is identifying the alternatives already available on existing NJ Transit bus service. NJ Transit will continue to work with elected officials and communities, as well as private carriers, to investigate potential solutions," spokesman Jim Smith said in an email.
Coach USA received COVID relief funds
Scoon said that part of ONE Bus' economic problems were a lack of government subsidies that are given to NJ Transit. However, Coach USA's six bus lines in New Jersey — Rockland Coaches, Community Transit, Suburban Transit, Hudson Transit, Olympia Trails and ONE Bus — received over half of the $25 million in funds from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority's Commuter and Transit Bus Private Carrier Pandemic Relief and Jobs Grant.
Coach USA spokesman Dan Rodriguez told New Jersey 101.5 that the grant was intended to make up the revenue losses from a drop in ridership in 2020 from 2019 resulting from the pandemic. Ridership is still low and the company has not been able to make up the revenue.
What about raising fares?
A fare increase is out of the question as it would likely not be approved under Zone of Rate Freedom regulations, according to Rodriguez. It would also not help Coach USA keep its fares affordable, which has caused financial stress in other areas.
"Wage inflation and surges in diesel costs were not factored into it which became a heavy financial burden, also the liability costs are significant which NJ Transit is exempt from," Rodriguez said.
Rodriquez said that Coach has been working with NJ Transit and other officials for a solution to keep the ONE buses rolling.
"We understand the importance of this service to those in the communities ONE serves," Rodriguez said.