DeCamp Responds To Complaints, (Just Not To Us) But Unhappy DeCampers Still Unhappy (Updated)

DeCamp cancelled routes include 5:10 and 5:40 on Rte 66 per sign dated January 13.
DeCamp cancelled routes include 5:10 and 5:40 on Rte 66 per sign dated January 13.
Update: A reader sends us this picture of cancelled buses on DeCamp routes.

Baby, it’s cold outside, again. The last cold snap brought out DeCamp customers with complaints about everything from late buses, cancelled buses, long waits for buses in single-digit temperatures, you name it. After this article ran, we heard even more from readers in comments and on Twitter. We never heard back from DeCamp, but someone else did. Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, after hearing complaints from a constituent, reached out to DeCamp. According to Caputo aide, Richard Ferrugia, Jonathan Decamp from Decamp Bus Lines said that the schedules were running a bit slow [because of] road conditions or traffic tie ups, but that no lines were taken out of their schedule.

Ferruggia added that if constituents continue to have complaints, to contact their office. Ferruggia only has to look at Twitter to hear from dissatisfied DeCamp customers. The weather is bitterly cold again. DeCamp riders — let us know what you experience in terms of waits and other service conditions in comments. Or tweet us with #DeCamp.

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21 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for using my tweet in your post.

    To clarify my stance on DeCamp: I understand that there are factors such as traffic and weather that are not under their control. It is for this reason that I do not get impatient or upset when the afternoon express bus is a little late. What bothers me is when these buses are later than normal and there is nobody communicating with the passengers in line about what is going on.

    For example last Thursday I was waiting for a bur that was 30 minutes late. It turned out that there was an accident on 495 preventing buses from getting into PABT but I didn’t find that out until I was already on the bus. How hard is it to post about the accident on their Twitter feed? Or to have someone at PABT to communicate with customers? Or to actually text me since I signed up for text alerts from them?

    In the few instances when they do try to communicate they usually mess it up. I find that their people at PABT are often gruff (and sometimes just plain rude) with customers. Their Twitter feed was a welcome step in the right directions but often falls short such as last week when they mentioned that the 66R was not able to use Eagle Rock Ave. but did not mention how they were addressing the situation (dropping all passengers at Mississippi or taking an alternate route).

    I understand it’s a tough business and not everything about is is under the operators control. But it is a customer oriented business and the customers will cut you a lot more slack if you communicate with them properly.

  2. A suggestion for DeCamp: Put a GPS device in each bus and connect it to an app for smart phones, which will allow commuters to track the location of a bus. This is vital information for those of us stuck on the street corner with no idea of when the next bus will arive!If I know that my morning bus is running 15 minutes late, that means I don’t have to wait in the cold unnecessarily for 15 minutes. More information = happier customers!

  3. Golddave hit the nail on the head. That’s always been at the core of most of DeCamp’s problems, the lack of communication. Even if the news is bad, I would rather hear it from the horse’s mouth than guess about it or be kept in the dark. And there’s no excuse not to communicate, now that we have Twitter and every driver is equipped with a radio.

    I got all excited when I saw this headline but was disappointed on reading further. DeCamp hardly “responds” to complaints and only did so through the efforts of an elected official. They barely even acknowledged them.

  4. I’m familiar with DeCamp’s service for over 40 years. They used to be at least semi-consistent; however the last 3 years before mid-town direct were excruciating. After the train but before the weekend service finally came about I had to drive into NYC 3x’s to not miss important events because the scheduled bus did not arrive. I complained a few times watching the the bus go by on my way to the stop when it was 5 minutes early….I was told buses never ran “hot” (early) but might be a few minutes late. They don’t deserve the political perks of their leased buses or the route.
    The only high point would be the retired driver Sal. Even though it was not my regular route, I have fond memories of his humor in stressful traffic or pointing out the Dentist’s Halloween display on Grove Street.
    I hope they are replaced at this point with NJT and Pard retires to Florida.

  5. One more thing to add to my comment. I understand that the costs of doing business generally increase and rarely, if ever, decrease. This causes fares to have to be raised on a regular basis. I get it. But for the fares I’m paying is it too much to ask for a bus that is maintained properly? Almost every bus I get on has broken seats (recliners not working properly such that the seat is either stuck in one position or will not stay in one position, recliner buttons broken, etc.) and/or vents above seats that don’t close or are missing closures such that air is constantly blowing on the passenger sitting beneath it. This week I have already been on 2 buses that not only didn’t blow heat but actually blasted cold air through the AC. There is no excuse for this.

  6. DeCamp is bad, they have no apps or real-time ways of finding out anything and their website is circa 1999, but the alternative — NJ Transit — is equally awful. Trains break down & are delayed every day, there’s standing room only most mornings & nights, and Penn Station vies with Port Authrority for Most Depressing Building in North America. So what’s plan C? Try driving yourself in. You will sit in Rt 3 traffic and crawl home @ 5 mph at least until you get to the rt 21 exit.

    It sucks that you need hours to commute to a town 12 miles away from NYC but thats the way it is in good ol’ 2014.

  7. I’m “the Clever Commute guy”…
    Yup…the commute can be challenging. The flow of information is key. CleverCommute.com can provide some help.
    Sure…GPS would be cool…but (1) DeCamp is at least a few steps away from that and (2) the _narrative_ is just as important as lat/long.
    To that end, Clever Commute has a “beta” tool that you are welcome to try: clevercommute.com/share . It runs on all devices…and can “remember” you after your first post.
    Yes…you need a premium membership to see the output on “the map”…but our policy is to “comp the share-ers”…so if you give info…you get it for free.
    Please check out the site…and use the “Contact” form at our site with any questions.
    Sorry for the plug here…but we’ve been running the free service for the bus riders for 8 years now…and we’re not eliminating that. But we’re also investing in “what’s next”.

  8. But why should Decamp change? They know they have you, so they get to treat you like crap. And you take it because you must. And while NJTransit created some competition, the truth is, without a competitor to challenge them and take your business, we’re all stuck “hoping” that they change.

    But they won’t because they don’t have to. (One would hope simply having a business would be enough to make folks treat their customers right. One would hope….)

  9. “But they won’t because they don’t have to.” That is exactly correct. I find myself having to explain this over and over and over again.

    There are other options. One can drive to the city, drive to the closest train station, drive to the Harrison path, the park and ride on Rt 3, etc. These are real options for most decamp riders.

    NOW, to the extent that you still PREFER decamp with all of their delays, bus cancellations, broken seats, poor customer service, poor communication, etc that means that you find net utility in this option relative to the alternatives listed above. If this is indeed true and Decamp retains its riders than the quality of service will NOT change.

  10. If you look at Decamp’s Twitter @DeCampBusLines, you’ll see that the (7:05 66) out of Crown-View is C A N C E L L E D E V E R Y S I N G L E D A Y. This has been happening since May 2013 when I started commenting about it (https://www.baristanetnew.wpengine.com/2013/05/decamp-driver-shortage-with-10-drivers-out-on-sick-leave/).

    What are the chances that this one bus is running into “road conditions” or “traffic tie ups” for MORE THAN 6 MONTHS?!?!? How stupid does Decamp think we are.

  11. NOTE: This is Mrs, Martta. For some reason, I am being told that I am logged in as profwilliams! Not sure how that happened. Don’t worry prof, I don’t have your password. I just want the Baristas to be aware of it!

    There are other options. One can drive to the city, drive to the closest train station, drive to the Harrison path, the park and ride on Rt 3, etc. These are real options for most decamp riders.

    Yes, there are other options but as I always like to point out, why, in 2014, do we reward people for taking their cars and punish them for wanting to commute? In a densely populated area such as ours, public transportation seems like a no-brainer: less cars on the road, less traffic jams as a result, less pollution. Yet, the people who control public transportation seem to do everything in their power to thwart it. If you want more people to take public transportation, make it more desirable, dammit!

    Who the hell wants to drive to NYC? Not me, unless I had no choice. Tolls, defensive driving, paying for parking…no thanks! I am happy to spend my money on public transportation but why can’t we have a better system? And no, it’s NOT like this all over. I have lived in other cities who seem to get it when it comes to decent public transport.

    Whether I had competition or not, if I was a business owner, I would do everything humanly possible to please my customers. I certainly wouldn’t strive to be the lowest common denominator.

  12. FIRST: I have had problems logging in to Bnet as well and occasionally my name appears as a different users. Weird. Bnet, please look into.

    “Who the hell wants to drive to NYC? Not me, unless I had no choice”

    MM you illustrated my point seamlessly. So all of the inconveniences of Decamp still beat the alternatives?

    “I certainly wouldn’t strive to be the lowest common denominator.”

    While you wouldn’t strive to be the “LCD” as you put it, you would strive to do what was necessary to keep your customers from leaving your business for alternatives. That is exactly what Decamp is doing.

  13. DeCamp has a no-compete agreement for NYC bus service in the Montclair area with NJT. As such DeCamp will never have any competition in the area, and thus no motivation to ever make an iota of improvement to their pathetic and miserable service.

    Likewise, since NJT knows the alternative is so bad along the Montclair Midtown Direct line, they have no motivation or need to put forth any effort on the Montclair Line to make it any better. Its a vicious cycle of do-nothingness.

  14. DeCamp has a no-compete agreement for NYC bus service in the Montclair area with NJT.

    They should look at rescinding this, with the condition that things improve.

  15. Unfortunately not all other commuting options work for everyone. In any event, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still endeavor to get DeCrap to provide better service! And yes, we certainly should not be encouraged to add to the commuter traffic on Rte 3 by driving in.

    The explanation that schedule issues were due to traffic etc we all know is a load of BS, since
    a) Baristanet published an article last summer that talked about how there were many drivers out on long-term sick leave and therefore DeCrap was short drivers. This issue has persisted SINCE SPRING 2013, as DeCrap itself has told waiting riders that they cancel certain buses when they don’t have enough drivers (or probably buses that are operable).

    b) to quote Jonathan DeCamp: “no lines were taken out of their schedule”, and then voila exhibit A – the pic of the recent memo post from DC stating the lines taken out of their schedule!

    Please write to the Assemblyman referenced in the above article, so that perhaps DeCrap is made accountable for their egregious service and indifference to their paying customers.

  16. Yes, there’s all this new technology, and, no, DeCamp can’t be bothered with it. And yes, so many of you are stuck in this terrible situation that can’t be adding years to your life–not to mention what the stress is doing to your families, your bodies, etc.

    So the question begs to be asked:
    WHY ARE SO MANY EMPLOYERS STILL REQUIRING PEOPLE TO BE IN THE OFFICE so much?

    Yes, yes, face time is important–in some jobs more than others. But it’s not THAT important, all the time, in any job…is it? Why aren’t you people–why isn’t everyone–organizing to change antiquated on-site office policies set by CEO’s and others who can afford to live in the City, and/or use car services, and/or hire nannies and cooks and maids to do chores while they are commuting?

  17. I posted this on the Watercooler several weeks ago. I call Decamp almost every morning to ask about a bus status. I was told by a dispatcher that there are multiple drivers (“like 9”) out on disability and that is the reason for the cancelled buses. Obviously that is ridiculous. Why can’t the company figure out their personnel issues to continue providing service? Notice I did not say good.

  18. Couldn’t agree with Mrs Martta more. Especially this – “Yes, there are other options but as I always like to point out, why, in 2014, do we reward people for taking their cars and punish them for wanting to commute?”
    This is exactly what is happening with our government (again) this year. Why, in 2014, are we going backwards (again) – the pre-tax dollars you were allowed to contribute to commuting was LOWERED to $135 (this number might be off by a few dollars)a month from $245 and the amount of pre-tax dollars you can put towards PARKING INCREASED from $245 to $250?! This is totally ridiculous! We are rewarding these people driving by themselves to and from work. Granted, I understand SOME people might have to drive into the city but this is totally absurd. Lowering the pre-tax dollars this much for people who commute via public transportation makes no sense considering the overall benefits Mrs Martta states above. On top of that we get crap service and then a road that’s constantly under construction.
    Now, on to the crap service DeCamp provides. First off, the bus is on time for pickup maybe ONCE a month. The bus schedule has each bus coming 20 minutes apart when I take it in morning. If the bus is 10 minutes late, what’s the point of having one come every twenty minutes? This morning, the bus didn’t show up and then two came for the next scheduled pick up. Where is the sense in that?! The PROBLEM IS IN THEIR LOGIC – the excuse they use for why buses are late or do not show up at all pretty much shows that they have no clue how to run a bus company. They tell you that the bus is stuck in traffic on route 3 coming back from NYC. And that is EXACTLY the problem! Why not take a driver and a bus sitting in the depot and send them out for the next scheduled run if they are running behind?! Doesn’t that make a whole lot more sense? Then, when the aforementioned driver gets back into the area, he can be integrated back into a bus run that suits his location and needs of the schedule at that time. I don’t get it – does the same driver need to drive the same bus every day at the same time? No! He doesn’t! If you drive the 66 one day at 9am, why can’t you drive the 33 at 9:30 another day? Or drive whatever route is running behind at the time?! Does each driver only know one Decamp route? I JUST DON’T GET THE LOGIC BEHIND USING ONE DRIVER EVERY DAY AT THE SAME TIMES… GET THEM OUT AND SWITCH THEM UP AS NEEDED AND TO STICK WITH YOUR POSTED SCHEDULE. OR, DON’T EVEN POST A SCHEDULE. WHY EVEN HAVE A SCHEDULE WHEN THE BUS IS NEVER EVER EVER ON TIME?! NEVER!

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