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Bill Requiring Certain Bus Operators to Notify Public When Canceling Service Clears Assembly Committee

Pintor Marin-, Calabrese-, and Speight-Sponsored legislation seeks to prevent residents and commuters from being blindsided by future disruption in bus routes 

(TRENTON) – The Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee advanced legislation today requiring private bus operators to provide advanced notice of certain service changes. The legislation follows the cessation of services last year by four private carriers that offer the same service on numerous routes as regular New Jersey transit buses.

Bill A3872, sponsored by Assemblymembers Eliana Pintor Marin, Clinton Calabrese, and Shanique Speight, would require private entities that operate motorbus regulatory route service to provide at least four months’ written notice to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission and New Jersey Transit, as well as three months’ written notice to the general public, before substantially curtailing a bus route service.

“Newark, as many municipalities in New Jersey, is a commuter city,” said Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Essex). “Our residents depend on the reliability of our public transportation systems. When services were unexpectedly disrupted last year, it lead to displacement, frustration, and unanticipated costs. By advancing this legislation today, we’re aiming to keep private bus operators accountable to the people and the state they serve.”

New Jersey Transit contracts some bus operations to private carriers that provide equivalent services on several routes similar to regular New Jersey Transit buses. Until recently, A&C Bus Corp in Jersey City and Bayonne, DeCamp Bus in Essex County, Coach USA in Newark, the Oranges, and Elizabeth, and TransDev in Monmouth County were among the providers. However, without warning to riders or New Jersey Transit, all four companies discontinued their bus routes in 2023.

Under the bill, a bus service operator would also be required to hold at least one public meeting in the affected areas within 15 days after providing notice of the change. Prior to holding the meeting, it would have to provide written notice to the Motor Vehicle Commission, New Jersey Transit, legislators representing any of the affected districts, the mayors and governing body of any municipalities, and the board of county commissioners of any county that will be affected by the substantial curtailment of services. An entity that violates the bill would face fines of up to $10,000 per violation.

“Assembly Democrats have taken numerous steps to strengthen our transportation infrastructure, and it was devastating to hear last year of these four private carriers abruptly ending their longstanding bus routes,” said Assemblyman Calabrese (D-Bergen, Passaic), Chair of the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee. “With this bill, we are prioritizing the importance of providing advanced notice not only to the public and their government representatives but also to New Jersey Transit, so the transit agency has the opportunity to make alternative arrangements with other private carriers or through direct service, neither of which can be facilitated without appropriate notice.”

To prevent the growth of transit deserts in dense public-transit-dependent parts of the state, New Jersey Transit announced it would take over the former routes of Coach USA and A&C Bus Corp while also expanding service and hours. New Jersey Transit began direct service on these routes in October 2023.

“Numerous Essex County residents rely on mass transit, particularly their bus routes, as their primary mode of transportation – to get to work, to see a doctor, to go to school, or to go to the store,” said Assemblywoman Speight (D-Essex). “In addition to causing unnecessary headaches for commuters, abruptly halting lines that New Jerseyans have come to depend has lasting financial and economic implications for these individuals. We have a duty as legislators to make sure this does not happen again without warning.”