NJ Transit Takeover
courtesy of wikipedia commons

NJ Transit’s Potential Takeover of Private Bus Routes: A Solution to Declining Services?

In light of the impending shutdown of the A&C bus service by Halloween and the grassroots efforts by Jersey City riders to save their routes, gubernatorial candidate Steve Fulop has proposed a long-term solution. He suggests that NJ Transit should gradually assume control over private bus routes across the state. This move is aimed at addressing the issue of private carriers either discontinuing their routes or reducing their services.

The A&C Bus Corporation, which operates in Jersey City and Bayonne, has announced the termination of its operations on its four remaining routes by October 31. This makes it the second private bus company to halt its commuter service this year. Earlier, DeCamp Bus had to end its Essex County commuter service in April due to low ridership and financial constraints. Similarly, Coach USA reduced its service on three routes serving Newark and nearby areas in July, citing financial challenges.

Fulop believes that the primary objective of private operators is profit, which often conflicts with the state’s goal of providing consistent and reliable transportation. He emphasized that transit systems in the U.S. are not profit-driven, leading to a misalignment between the goals of private operators and the state.

In a recent tweet, Mayor Fulop expressed his concerns, stating, “Does Trenton not see the misalignment of priorities that then leads to terrible service for residents? Govt is tasked with providing mobility options and understanding that they will do it at a loss because all transportation systems everywhere run at a loss. Meanwhile, private operators aim to maximize profits, often by squeezing the lines and providing the bare minimum service. There is a clear misalignment of priorities.”

The 1979 legislation that established NJ Transit permitted private bus companies to continue their commuter and transit services. They were even provided buses for a minimal fee to ensure a level playing field. However, given the current financial challenges and the evident misalignment of priorities, Fulop feels it might be time to phase out private operations in favor of a more unified and state-driven approach.