Private bus companies in New York City area face falling ridership, suspending operations amid pandemic
(The Center Square) – With the COVID-19 pandemic causing severe cutbacks in the number of commuters riding buses to New York City, DeCamp Bus Lines, the oldest private bus company in New Jersey, recently suspended operations after 150 years.
The Montclair-based company started out with stagecoaches in 1870, and had managed through catastrophic events before. But when service resumed in June, ridership was roughly 400 people a day, down from a typical 6,000.
The decline was not sustainable, company CEO Jonathan DeCamp told The New York Times.
The private bus industry has been particularly hard hit by the government-mandated closures and stay-at-home orders caused by the coronavirus pandemic, as once crowded fleets have been running close to empty with so many people working from home.
Lakeland Bus Lines, based in Dover, N.J., has seen ridership as low as three people, co-owner Mark Leo told the Times, and may elect to suspend operations without further financial relief from the government.
Coach USA had hoped to see ridership improve over the summer as New York and New Jersey have seen COVID cases decline and lockdown measures lifted. But a company spokesman told the Times that the number of riders still had not improved. Earlier this month, it remained down by close to 90 percent.
Coach has suspended service on a number of lines in metro area suburbs, and cut the number of daily runs on others.
DeCamp told northjersey.com that the company hopes to resume operations when people start returning to the city in greater numbers.
“It's heart-wrenching to say the least," DeCamp said. "We have survived two World Wars, the Great Depression, fuel embargoes, 9/11, economic collapse, the bubble housing market, but I never in a million years thought I'd see a complete shutdown, a time when people aren't going to work and going into the city."