DeCamp Customers’ Lament, But Is Anyone Listening?

BY  |  Friday, Jan 10, 2014 3:43pm  |  COMMENTS (26)

The weather has been cold outside, but temperatures have been rising among Decamp riders, many who have reached their boiling point when it comes to late buses, cancelled buses and longer than usual rides, according to “Conductor” Josh Crandall at Clever Commute.

Baristanet contacted DeCamp and spoke with Rosemarie who seemed surprised to hear there were any problems on the line, (although she did say service was affected during the days DeCamp was cross honoring due to weather). She went on to assure us she would pass on our inquiry. She also did say readers could comment on service issues through the company’s website (DeCamp is also on Twitter @DeCampBusLines, and if Rosemarie takes a look, she will see complaint after complaint about service)

Clever Commuters emailed us (as well as our Twitter followers @baristanet) to give us their feedback on DeCamp of late. Check out complaints below.

Is it me or have things gotten worse with the Decamp Bus Co.? There doesn’t seem to be a schedule at rush hour, the buses are falling apart, the employees are surly, and yet fares keep increasing. Those of us who ride the 33 Broad Street bus (not even going to get into how stupid it is that this is called the 33 M…no, that doesn’t confuse people looking for the 33 that runs through Montclair on Grove Street), feel that Decamp has a stranglehold on our commuting options. Many of us live too far away for the train to be a viable option, so without access to a NJ Transit bus, Decamp is our only choice. How is this possible?

Is there a solution to our commuting woes? Will getting our local representative involved help? I know I’m not alone in my frustration.

Thanks for letting me vent.

Recently the commute has been ATROCIOUS. 2 + hours to get home on a nightly basis. The dispatchers are outside smoking and just shrug everyone off. The drivers are rude. The passengers are the only ones who suffer! They should have buses on time and on stand by- like NJT. Many passengers are contemplating figuring out other routes. The problems stem from the top – and it shows right through management, dispatch and drivers. The line for bus route 410 which services Bloomfield is consistently all the way across the floor and to the escalator. So frustrating.

26 Comments

  1. POSTED BY kjnj10  |  January 10, 2014 @ 4:29 pm

    Rosemarie is surprised to hear there were any issues? What a crock. I personally called 3X this past week to see where my morning bus was (it was cancelled, as per their usual whim). I was also waiting while other people called to complain.
    There is no accountability it seems for DeCamp. Buses don’t arrive, drivers and dispatchers are arrogant, indifferent or downright rude. Buses themselves are not maintained. I am now familiar with which seats are still broken and which overhead lights/vents don’t work.
    But the most egregious behavior is the reckless way DeCamp drivers actually DRIVE. I have sat many a time in abject fear as they fly around the helix or down Rte 3, bus rocking side-to-side, as if they were driving a sports car. Are drivers under pressure to do more circuits to/from NYC? I don’t know but it’s a tragedy waiting to happen.
    Shame on them. If any of their customers ran their businesses they are trying so hard to get to thusly, they wouldn’t have jobs to go to in the first place.

  2. POSTED BY stayhyphy  |  January 10, 2014 @ 7:07 pm

    Is this a serious question? The answer is no and until riders find different modes of transportation the poor service will contine. To complain and whine over and over again yet continue to be a customer of Decamp doesn’t really send a message it just makes the riders look like whiners.

  3. POSTED BY fido888  |  January 11, 2014 @ 9:19 am

    The township of Montclair has to get involved (and Montclair Real Estate Co’s) in creating a commuter bus within Montclair ( similar to Glen Ridge) that can transport residents to the various train stations. Decamp has been deteriorating since Montclair got Midtown Direct service.

  4. POSTED BY ihateplaydates  |  January 11, 2014 @ 9:32 am

    I happened to hear about the horrible service from a friend just yesterday. And I agree with a previous poster. NOTHING’s GOING TO HAPPEN if you complain only here. Isn’t there a state agency that investigates such queries? And who’s to say our wonderful Chris “Traffic Study” Christie might not be having some fun with oh-so-Democratic Montclair?

  5. POSTED BY Martta Rose  |  January 11, 2014 @ 10:54 am

    Is Chris Christie behind this? Did someone in Monctlair piss him off recently?

    Kidding aside, it doesn’t appear that things have improved with DeCamp, since I stopped commuting in April, but have gotten much worse. I agree, the county MUST step in do something. There is no reason that commuting has to be so unpleasant. We should be encouraging more people to commute and not use their cars whenever possible.

  6. POSTED BY complainerpuss  |  January 11, 2014 @ 11:05 am

    I agree. There must be some sort of agency to investigate such queries. Or better yet, why don’t we just hire Mark Tabakin to investigate? He’s done such a terrific job finding out how the assessments were “leaked,” that I’m sure this would be a piece of cake. Obviously, the first step would be to issue subpoenas to the most vocal critics of DeCamp.

  7. POSTED BY me1004  |  January 11, 2014 @ 11:17 am

    stayhyphy, you say to simply take another service into NYC rather than DeCamp. You clearly don’t know the DeCamp routes and the monopoly they have. For instance, they are pretty much the only route into Midtown from the north end of Bloomfield. (Yes, you can ride the one NJT bus to Blfd. Center and transfer and suffer all the time consumption that involves and paying two fares end up paying as much as DeCamp – but that is not a realistic alternative). Unlike so many other area, NJT does not provide much service to the north end of Bloomfield.

    NJT’s de facto grant of a near monopoly to DeCamp in the North End of Bloomfield is where the problems. As a result, the far is much higher than what it would be via a NJT bus. And with no competition, DeCamp can get away with whatever atrocious service it bothers to provide. This is what a free market gets you.

    NJT needs to add a line that includes going through the north end of Bloomfield to NYC in order to at least provide competition to DeCamp to force better service and lower fares.

  8. POSTED BY rubberchix  |  January 11, 2014 @ 2:01 pm

    Complaining to DeCamp is a waste of breath in my opinion. They have the Montclair monopoly locked up for some reason related to bus franchises (who grants the franchises and is there an evaluation of service at renewal time?)

    If you want improved service I suggest:

    1) online petition to replace DeCamp with NJT

    2) vote with your feet and wallet by taking NJ Transit Bus. Allwood Park & Ride has buses leaving every 3 – 6 minutes during rush hours (e.g. over 30 buses between 6:00 and 9:00 am). You will always get a seat in the morning. They have a dispatcher with a schedule. The dispatcher and drivers are very polite. This Tuesday morning when the Lincoln tunnel bus lane was shut down, we waited 30 minutes for a bus, but the dispatcher and a supervisor were there, on the walkie talkies working to get updates.

    Monthly bus pass is $145. Parking is $25 more. Maybe a bunch of Montclair folks could car pool or the Town can do a shuttle van.

    https://www.njtransit.com/pdf/bus/T1192.pdf

    I rode Decamp since 1990 and don’t miss it a bit. Years before Midtown direct, DeCamp buses were even worse….sagging seats, reading lights dimmer than a birthday candle, lousy a/c in the summer. They bought new buses right before Midtown direct came in, and I think they’re still running the same buses…all down hill.

    The only thing DeCamp has going for them is the convenience of getting the bus on the corner in Montclair, which is a gift apparently that the bus franchise gods bestowed on them.

  9. POSTED BY hellomontclair  |  January 11, 2014 @ 5:27 pm

    This website has several articles on the Decamp problem, dating back many months. So, either there are no bus drivers for Decamp to hire – or they are just not hiring.

    For 66 riders – one of the Dispatchers informed me that the 7:20am (Watchung Plaza) is “the” bus that gets cancelled whenever there are driver shortages. This is why it hasn’t been running regularly for several weeks now. The next bus – which is scheduled about the same time as a NJTransit train – typically arrives later than the train and gets into NY around 9am because of Route 3 traffic. Unfortunately, this does not work for people who have to be at work on time.

  10. POSTED BY marke301  |  January 12, 2014 @ 1:46 am

    If you live in the north end of Bloomfield you have other options besides Decamp. The town runs a shuttle that goes down West Passaic Ave and then down Broad St to the Bloomfield Rail Station on Glenwood Ave. The fare is 50 cents per ride, The monthly pass for the train is $169.00. The train is a much better option then Decamp. The shuttle will stop anywhere along the route to pick up passengers, The shuttle information and schedule is here https://www.bloomfieldtwpnj.com/content/bloomfield-shuttle-service

  11. POSTED BY lucinda  |  January 12, 2014 @ 1:17 pm

    marke301, thanks for this info! I had no idea this option even existed.

  12. POSTED BY deiscane  |  January 12, 2014 @ 2:23 pm

    I normally commute via NJT train from Maplewood but this week spent the week commuting from Upper Montclair, where I was told the best option was the 33 bus from DeCamp. I truly don’t think I’ve ever encountered a more incompetent, unintuitive commuting experience. I left the week extremely grateful to have choses Maplewood over Montclair seven years ago.

  13. POSTED BY deiscane  |  January 12, 2014 @ 2:25 pm

    Err, chosen.

  14. POSTED BY townie  |  January 12, 2014 @ 2:42 pm

    I think Decamp needs to reinvent its business model and sell to its employees.

    Business go through cycles and Decamp is in the milking cycle. It’s ownership is old, it’s fleet is aging and since the train routes led directly to Manhattan, the days for its business model have been numbered. It’s workforce sees this so is focused on feeding at the trough, not at making the business competitive.

    New ownership with the employee themselves directly involved, would include the present service, and would include intratown service to train stations and paratransit for seniors. One transit organization, vertically integrated without labor strife, is a model that could make money and provide much-needed services going forward.

  15. POSTED BY yougottalovehim  |  January 12, 2014 @ 8:35 pm

    Look, I’ve lived in Montclair for 20 years now. DeCamp hasn’t gotten bad lately. It sucked for the past 20 years. I stopped using them the day the train showed up. The drivers are almost without exception rude, with chips on their shoulder the size of Mt Everest. When I moved to town I had no idea where my street was. Every time I asked for a bit of help it was like I was asking someone to make me Christmas Dinner. The schedules aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. If your schedule says the bus is scheduled to arrive at 12:34 than means I will probably arrive before 1. Might even be a seat. The traffic into the City on the bus in the morning is dreadful. At least on the train you can enjoy a cup of coffee while you wait for Amtrak to use the tracks first. My friends who continue to use the bus have made a conscious decision to be treated like crap. Maybe the 5 block shorter walk on the other end makes it all worthwhile for you. To each his own. I would rather walk on the side of Route 3 than to put money in the coffers of this company.

  16. POSTED BY walleroo  |  January 12, 2014 @ 8:53 pm

    The apostrophe in the headline makes it sound like it’s this particular bit of complaining that nobody is listening to. Which is probably true enough.

  17. POSTED BY frankgg  |  January 12, 2014 @ 11:36 pm

    i love the DeCamp history . Here is their page… https://decamp.com/about.htm They are important local history. The old DeCamp Farm is near to my house. Its now subdivided into a pleasant neighborhood. I spent my childhood going back and forth to NYC exploring. I’m not a daily commuter but I love remembering back then.

  18. POSTED BY sillyphus  |  January 13, 2014 @ 9:08 am

    Sorry Frank…but while the early history might be true, the company as far back as the 80’s has just sucked. Sal was the only diamond in a corrupt company. After getting fed up and actually having the cops involved because of a driver tailgating at 75mph on route 3, I would never put my life in the hands of this company. I encourage all riders stuck with this commute to video the speedometer and ignore the driver saying you can’t and report them, unless you think it’s ok because you might get to work on time if you live. The few times a year I drive into the city I still see DeCamp buses weaving, tailgating and speeding on route 3, why the cops ignore this I don’t get.

  19. POSTED BY whippersnapper  |  January 13, 2014 @ 10:53 am

    I havent taken the bus in a few months but from what I recall most of them are owned by NJ Transit and operated by Decamp. If you look at the information stickered on the outside of the bus closest to the front it lists the basic equipment info. Im sure Decamp might be leasing or financing the equipment but hey..if the assets are still in NJT’s name then there may be more riders can actually do to evoke change.

  20. POSTED BY redrum  |  January 13, 2014 @ 2:14 pm

    Decamp and NJT have a dysfunctional co-dependency of providing substandard service to the Montclair area. They both rely on each others’ incompetence to keep frustrating customers from fleeing to the competing service.

  21. POSTED BY frankgg  |  January 13, 2014 @ 5:57 pm

    I’ve always wondered why there isnt a straight forward understandable way to take the 29 up Bloomfield Avenue from Newark Penn Station’s PATH NYC train to Bloomfield…Glenridge…Montclair….Verona…ect.. The PATH is great and so fast and affordable. One can take the 29 Eastbound to Penn Station so efficiently…. but the 29 terminal at Penn Station in Newark always seems like the deserted aftermath of some horrible tragedy scene.

  22. POSTED BY walleroo  |  January 13, 2014 @ 8:17 pm

    Leave it to Frank to find something good to say about DeCamp. Tu sei un’anima meravigliosamente ottimista e Englightened, signor Frank.

  23. POSTED BY frankgg  |  January 13, 2014 @ 10:14 pm

    Grazie sei veremente un gran gentiluomo caro walleroo!!

  24. POSTED BY cn12345  |  January 21, 2014 @ 2:51 pm

    Yesterday, Jan. 20th, I had the most frustrating day getting to work. I missed the DeCamp #33 Broad bus in the morning and again in the evening due to the holiday schedule but through no fault of my own. DeCamp was running on a holiday schedule, which means that the bus runs every hour and was due at Watchung and Broad at 6:57am. I was there at 6:56am, and at 7:01am I called the dispatcher to ask where the bus was. She contacted the driver and he was already on Route 3. Apparently the driver had to speed through the route instead of slowing down to ensure he was on schedule for passengers, not ahead of schedule, on a morning when the next bus wouldn’t come for another hour. Some holiday mornings the bus is so crowded that by the time it gets to Watchung and Broad it’s standing-room only and the bus just drives on by, leaving us standing there, open-mouthed. Then last night, I ran to the Port Authority and got there just in time to make the 7:45pm bus home. I arrived at gate 410, breathless, exactly at 7:45, just in time to see my bus pull away. I called to the dispatcher outside. He came to the door and told me I just missed it. I told him I was there at 7:45 and he argued with me. He came in, looked at the clock, and said it’s 7:46. Well, I said, now it is, but I was here at 7:45. He just shook his head and walked away. Their service to customers is so poor but they know we’re stuck with it. I think it’s time to write to my congressman

  25. POSTED BY silverleaf  |  January 21, 2014 @ 3:36 pm

    Sorry to hear you had a frustrating commute, cn12345. I’ve been there and it’s a drag.

    That said, has it occurred to you that you are cutting it a wee bit too close? Have you thought about the consequences if your watch is just 1 min behind that of DeCamp.

    Here’s a trick. Set your watch, alarm clock, etc several minutes ahead and you’ll have a bigger cushion.

  26. POSTED BY stayhyphy  |  January 21, 2014 @ 4:11 pm

    ” I think it’s time to write to my congressman”

    OR

    – drive in
    – drive to train
    – drive to park and ride
    – drive to light rail
    – move to city or move closer to city or move closer to train or nj transit

    ANYTHING BUT

    – continue to patronize decamp

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