City officials have reacted with outrage to the announcement that Trans-Hudson Express, Inc., operator of the No. 10 Boulevard Bus between Third Street and Journal Square, intends to cease operation on that route on April 8.
Mayor Mark Smith said his office received notice of the company’s intent via a hand delivered letter on Thursday.
“The notice we received was not in conformance with state law,” Smith complained.
Trans Hudson Express, Inc., doing business as Red & Tan Tours, has been providing local bus service on the No. 10 route along JFK Boulevard from West Third Street to Journal Square, a route regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The company said it would suspend the service due to the slow economy and increased competition from shuttle buses that serve the same route during peak rush hours.
Mayor Smith responded to the notice by demanding that the company continue to operate its service until an arrangement can be reached.
“Many Bayonne people depend on this bus route to get to work or to school at Bayonne High School, Marist and HolyFamily Academy,” said Smith last week. “Red & Tan’s decision to suddenly and deliberately cease operations without adequate advance notice is unprofessional and disrespectful to the people who have been their customers for many years. Frankly, if this is the way they treat their customers, the people who run this company should be barred from providing bus service anywhere.”
Upon receipt of the surprise notice, Mayor Smith wrote a letter to the company’s counsel demanding that they be fair and reasonable in their dealings with the community and continue operations until an agreement can be reached. Smith also sent a letter to Bayonne’s federal congressional representatives as well as DOT Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne Ferro.
Mayor Smith also contacted New Jersey Transit and Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell to develop alternatives to Red and Tan Tours.
“We are examining alternatives along with New Jersey Transit to ensure continued service for all Bayonne residents especially our students that use this bus line to get to and from school,”
O’Donnell said, adding he contacted NJ Transit to ask that they take over the route.
“We’re meeting with NJ Transit next week,” O’Donnell said. “They’re strapped, too. So it’s not a slam-dunk, but I think they might.”
“We’re meeting with NJ Transit next week.” – Jason O’Donnell
This is the second time that Red & Tan eliminated service in Bayonne.
Last year, the company eliminated its 99S bus – which ran on Kennedy Boulevard to Journal Square and eventually through Jersey City to the Port Authority in New York – after an independent shuttle bus service began operating along the same route.
Jim Rutherford, general manager for Red & Tan at the time, blamed low ridership for the change.
City officials negotiated with NJ Transit to use the 119 bus to cover the 99S route. But this service was only available during morning and evening rush hours, with the No. 88 picking up those riders during off-peak hours, leaving gaps in the service.
The No. 10 Red & Tan bus had been another option for commuters traveling to New York, since they could get the PATH train to Manhattan at Journal Square. But elimination of the No. 10 leaves commuters with one less option.
O’Donnell said he believed a similar arrangement will likely be worked out to cover the route from West Third to Journal Square that was being serviced by the Red & Tan No. 10.
Independent shuttle buses began operating the Bayonne to Journal Square route about two years ago, officials said, siphoning off riders that would have otherwise used Red & Tan bus lines, making the service less profitable.
Although residents in the area have access to NJ Transit trains at the recently opened Eighth Street station of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail line, which allows them to reach New York destinations via the PATH stations in Jersey City, city officials note that there is no direct train service to Journal Square from Bayonne.