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Ruiz/McKnight Bill Requiring Private Bus Operators to Provide Notice and Hold Public Meetings for Certain Service Changes Approved by Senate

bus stop

TRENTON – In response to recent cancellations of routes and services by private bus carriers that left some New Jerseyans who rely on this form of public transit stranded with few alternatives, the Senate approved legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Angela McKnight. The bill, S-2607 Sca, would require private bus companies who operate in-state and interstate routes to provide notice and hold public hearings for changes to their operation of fixed route bus service.

“For many people, public transportation is their lifeline to work, medical care, and taking care of their families. Any disruption to these services means upending someone’s livelihood. Entire communities depend on these services, are loyal customers, and deserve respect from the companies they rely on,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex/Hudson).

The bill would require a private bus operator to provide at least four months’ written notice to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission and NJ Transit before a substantial cutback in service. At least three months’ written notice to customers and at least one public meeting in the affected area would be required of the bus operator.

Any private company found in violation of the bill would be subject to a fine of $10,000 for each violation. The bill excludes any motorbus operations that are predominately operated for tourism or recreational purposes from these requirements.

“Commuters should not be left in the dark on changes to their private bus route service,” said Senator McKnight (D-Hudson). “This legislation gives NJ Transit and commuters enough time to prepare alternative transportation or voice their concerns over service cuts, making sure everyone can still get to their destination.”

Throughout the last year, various private carrier companies abruptly terminated services and routes throughout the State. For instance, in September, one provider abruptly discontinued bus service in Orange, Newark, and East Orange. This caused distress among riders and left NJ Transit to establish short-term emergency alternatives and lean on employers to fill gaps. This bill would provide MVC and NJ Transit with a much-needed warning to arrange alternative transportation for affected areas.

The legislation was approved by the Senate in a 38-0 vote.