East Orange, NJ, September 18, 2023: Coach USA recently shared upcoming plans to discontinue its O.N.E. bus service through East Orange and surrounding communities, a revelation that comes on the heels of a recent announcement this past July that bus services would only be reduced on Sunday and during evening hours.
As of October 8, 2023, the 24, 31 and 44 routes that travel through East Orange, Orange, South Orange, Newark and Elizabeth will no longer be in operation.
Since the announcement, there has been public outcry as many riders scramble to find alternative, affordable ways to travel.
“I join many of my fellow urban mayors and NJ TRANSIT in my extreme disappointment with Coach’s decision to discontinue O.N.E. bus service on three vital routes in our communities. The hardship that this will create on many East Orange riders could be devastating without an alternative solution in near sight,” said Mayor Ted R. Green. “East Orange is a vibrant transit hub with easy and accessible connections to cities across the entire state of New Jersey. Many of our residents rely on Coach for transportation to and from work and to access critical services, including the Veterans Hospital, one of only two federal VA medical centers in the state. I am committed to working with all impacted parties to find a feasible solution that works for everyone.”
In response to the announcement, NJ TRANSIT officials released the following statement:
“NJ TRANSIT is assessing the impacts of Coach’s disappointing decision to discontinue O.N.E. bus service in its entirety with limited advance notice to customers, particularly after recently scaling back service on these same routes earlier this summer with a similar lack of advance notice. 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. However, NJ TRANSIT may not have the resources necessary to replace all of the private bus services that are being discontinued. The subsidies are in addition to the approximately 150 buses that NJ TRANSIT has given to Coach USA at no cost.”
On WNYC’s “Ask Governor Murphy,” Gov. Phil Murphy said that while he has no concrete news to share, he did think there's a short-term fix, which is probably monetary-based.
“We’re taking it very seriously — largely through the Economic Development Authority,” said Gov. Murphy.
Coach company officials blamed a “decrease in ridership, driver shortages and inflationary pressures on all operating expenses” for the upcoming changes.
“We attempted to find a solution that would allow service to continue, but none prevailed,” said Dan Rodriguez, vice president of public affairs at Coach USA. “We have attempted every course of action to have prevented this, but without government assistance there is no alternative.”
Meanwhile, city officials have been fielding calls from constituents seeking governmental intervention and advocacy on this issue.
One constituent, George Kaufer, is looking forward to a resolution on this matter sooner than later.
“I look forward to seeing a resolution for this issue so that our communities can continue to receive the affordable, sustainable transportation that they need and deserve,” wrote Kaufer, who sent a lengthy email to a roster of transportation leaders and elected officials representing the affected towns. “I also do not believe that “low ridership” is an issue, as these routes all serve dense, urban corridors with high percentages of autoless households. If anything, more service is warranted, as many nationwide redesigns (including the NewBus Newark plan which omits the Coach USA ONE Bus routes) have shown that boosting service to “show up and go” levels in these types of corridors can boost ridership if advertised properly. The removal of service will also hinder efforts to revitalize certain corridors, as the lack of connectivity will make them less desirable as areas to live, work, shop, or operate a business.”
Among Kaufer’s other suggestions included extending services to reach destinations such as downtown South Orange and negotiating route swaps between NJ TRANSIT and Coach USA bus routes.
For more information on the service discontinuation, please visit www.coachusa.com.