As a former bus operator and dedicated "bus buff" perhaps I can shed some light on the current sad state of affairs involving the deplorable bus service provided by Red and Tan in Hudson County.
The simple fact of the matter is that this Coach USA property doesn't have enough equipment to provide a decent level of service. Over the last year or so at least 30 buses have left their equipment roster - without replacements! This explains why you'll often see buses "borrowed" from other Coach USA properties operating on Red & Tan/Trans Hudson Express routes. I've seen buses from Orange, Newark & Elizabeth Bus Co., Seven Bus Co., South Orange Ave. Bus as well as Olympia Trails operating on Red & Tan routes They're easily identified on the bottom side panel of the bus underneath "Owned by N.J. Transit."
As for the "missing" buses, I'm fairly certain they've gone to a well deserved permanent retirement - not just from old age but even more so from an obvious lack of even basic maintenance. In layman's terms, the buses were beat to death!
I find it ironic that when the old independent owner/operators ran these routes, service was far better especially on #10 between Journal Square and Bayonne. You rarely waited more than 10 minutes between buses. Now 20 minutes seems more the normal wait and then maybe 2 or 3 buses at a time and then nothing for as long as 30-45 minutes! Are these drivers supervised at all? I don't think so!
As far as moving the 99S to Central Avenue, I don't think a bus is the real answer to the merchants' concerns. Last Sunday I rode with a friend from North Bergen to Journal Square, and I was happily surprised at how busy and vibrant the shopping areas along Bergenline Ave. were compared to nearly empty Central Ave. Perhaps the merchants and the current administration need to try and figure out why shoppers aren't going to Central Ave., even with the multitude of empty parking spaces we witnessed last Sunday at 3 p.m. As far as bus service goes, combine #3 and #231 routes and provide a 1 seat, 1 fare ride from Garfield Ave. all the way up to the Heights.
Finally, perhaps it's time for some sort of transit watchdog committee to be set up to monitor bus service in Hudson County, which seems to be getting rapidly worse, especially where the routes of Coach USA are concerned. It seems that when they get their hands on a bus route service goes down the proverbial toilet!
Kevin F. Speitel
Dedicated public transit advocate