ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — The days of walking to Bloomfield Avenue or Eagle Rock Avenue to catch the 33 or 66R to Port Authority and Wall Street are on hold at least until September effective Aug. 7 according to a statement by DeCamp Bus Lines. 

The 150-year-old Montclair based company which began providing transportation by stagecoach has become yet another victim of the economic fallout of COVID-19.  DeCamp issued a statement confirming that it is “suspending all service” because of “sustained effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

DeCamp previously had a daily ridership of 3,000 and has experienced a decrease of 90% to what is now approximately 300 riders daily.  The decrease severely impacted the company’s finances and it was decided that the service would be halted. 

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Unfortunately for the residents who commute to the New York City from Roseland, Essex Fells, Caldwell, West Caldwell, Verona, and West Orange this will have a profound impact on their travels.  The closest train stations are in Orange and Montclair and nearby park and rides to Port Authority are in Livingston, Parsippany, Upper Montclair, and the Codey Arena in West Orange.

It was reported by Bloomberg.com that “There are no plans for NJ Transit to absorb these bus routes,” Nancy Snyder, a spokesperson for New Jersey Transit, the state-run commuter bus and rail operator, said in an email.

Assemblyman John F. McKeon, who represents the 27th legislative district, that includes much of western Essex County contacted President Kevin Corbett of New Jersey Transit to advocate on behalf of his constituents.  In an email provided exclusively to TAPinto, McKeon stated: “New Jersey Transit has an opportunity to further advance its mission in providing affordable and essential transportation. I respectfully request, at a minimum, that New Jersey Transit provide shuttles to transport the commuters to train stations or to other bus routes in the area (such as the Codey Arena) that currently provide direct service to Manhattan”.  

Elected officials from the affected areas are also weighing in on the news.  West Caldwell Mayor Joseph Tempesta stated: “I’m not sure of the impact but the main reason I assume DeCamp is in trouble is because so many people are working from home and especially not going to New York.  So, the impact is probably minimal right now to our people.  I believe it may be several years before there is enough demand to support a private line like DeCamp.  It is a shame because for years they provided a good service and a good option beside NJ Transit”.

West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi noted that “DeCamp Bus Lines shutting down service is devastating to those commuters that have counted on them for so long.  Just another way this pandemic continues to wreak havoc on people, communities, and the economy.  We will hope they can be fully operational soon.”

Roseland Mayor James R. Spango, remarked “the temporary suspension of DeCamp bus service is concerning anytime.  We hope that DeCamp resumes service when ridership demand increases.  We are grateful that the DeCamp customers can utilize NJ Transit service to get to their destination.”

In a message from the Government and Community Relations from NJ Transit issued to the mayors, business administrators and township managers of the affected communities it was stated:

“DeCamp Bus Lines has announced a temporary suspension of service, due to continued low ridership demand. NJ TRANSIT wants you and your constituents and residents to know that, although DeCamp is a private carrier and NJ TRANSIT does not have the resources to absorb DeCamp’s lines, there are a number of transit alternatives available for DeCamp customers until the private carrier resumes regular service.

In addition to NJ TRANSIT rail service along the Morris and Essex and Montclair Boonton Lines, NJ TRANSIT operates robust bus service in the Essex-Hudson area:

  • NJ TRANSIT buses Nos. 28 & 29 serve different sections of Bloomfield Avenue (DeCamp #32, 33 & 88), and No. 13 in Nutley, to feed NJ TRANSIT rail stations
  • NJ TRANSIT commuter trips on the Nos. 191/195 serve Little Falls
  • No. 191 also serves Montclair
  • No. 324 provides express service from the Wayne Transit Center
  • Nos. 192/199 – serve the Allwood Park and Ride

Additionally, please note that all of the Park and Rides have plenty of capacity.”

In a press release this past May, New Jersey Transit had announced that it had been awarded “$1.4 billion in federal aid through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This critical emergency relief funding will enable NJ TRANSIT to continue to provide service to essential workers who are on the front lines of the Coronavirus response”.  In June, New Jersey Transit received another $13.3M in CARES Act money to assist in sustaining existing local transportation in rural areas of New Jersey. 

As reported by CNBC, private bus companies such as DeCamp were not included in the stimulus package and received no aid.   It was stated that the motor coach industry normally generates more than $15 billion annually. This year, it is on track for $4 billion. The CARES Act did not allocate money to private bus companies and The American Bus Association estimates as many as 40% of its member businesses could close permanently by year’s end, without federal assistance. 

CNBC reported that according to American Bus Association CEO, Paul Pantuso: “We’ve gone to Congress and suggested that we need $10 billion in grants and $5 billion in loans, modeled very much after the airline program and the other stimulus programs that passed Congress the end of March,” Pantuso said.  “Unfortunately, there was no money in those stimulus programs for the motorcoach industry. We were one of the only passenger transportation modes that was completely left out and completely left by the roadside.”  The industry is hoping that they will be considered in a second stimulus package. 

Pantuso further cautioned that as many as 40% of private bus companies could fold by the end of the year.  “It’s just a disaster,” Pantuso said. “Not only do these companies, and these families who have been running them for multi-generations, lose out, but the American public loses out because they lose a major part of the transportation network.”

In the meantime, DeCamp has come to an agreement with Coach USA while their routes are suspended:

We are pleased to announce a partnership with Coach USA while our routes are suspended. Just hand in your DeCamp tickets to a Coach USA driver to ride their bus this month. Schedule details from West Orange to New York can be found here - https://t.co/xZETuh3UbZ pic.twitter.com/eKLqg6Gfvy

— DeCamp Bus (@DeCampBusLines) August 7, 2020