Letter to the Editor: A Reader Writes of DeCamp Woes

Commuting to Manhattan has been nightmarish of late, but Alexandra, a reader commuting from Bloomfield, wants to know if others are experiencing worse service on DeCamp. She writes…

I’m a bus commuter who has lived in the Brookdale section of Bloomfield for a bit over 2 years. I formerly lived in Montclair & Glen Ridge and commuted via NJT rail. When I first moved, I found the bus to be more efficient than the train. The bus arrived within a 5-10 minute window each morning and although there was traffic, it was consistent traffic you could plan around.

I’m experiencing, as many others, a downturn in overall commuter service. While none of us can do anything about the “improvements” being made to commuting infrastructure (tunnels, roads, etc.), we can demand more of Decamp. Service has become unpredictable in the morning – with 40 minute waits not uncommon. Standing room only service has also become the new norm at my stop (Parkview and Broad) and often times many take a gamble and wait for the next bus – whenever it may arrive – instead of standing. I’ve also seen commuters call for an Uber and get a ride to the train station (adding to the time and cost of their commute).

Long lines, long waits and overcrowded busses continue to plague our commute. Please see this image taken this week of the line at just one stop along the #33. Broad and Parkview is getting toward the end of the line before it expresses into NYC and it has become increasingly difficult not just to get a seat, but to get a bus at all.

When I moved here 2 years ago, this was not the case on a regular basis.

I often talk to Dispatch (again, like others), who assure me a bus is on the way even when that does not pan out to be true. One dispatcher explained that outbound traffic causes delays for busses, which are then in turn late for their next inbound trip. When I inquired why the Twitter feed is not being updated in real time to communicate that, she told me it was a Catch 22 because drivers are dispatch’s only source of on-the-ground information but those drivers are not legally allowed to use their communication devices while driving.

I asked one of the “good” drivers (we can leave driver rudeness and ineptitude for another time) about what has caused this disruption in service, and he explained that there is a new operational manager at Decamp who is attempting to make positive changes (he didn’t explain what they were) and many of the drivers were intentionally giving her a hard time by calling out on their routes and wreaking havoc on service. Many had also quit.

In our community, Decamp is known for its outdated tech, poor customer service, inconsistent service, and lack of accountability because of their monopoly on direct NYC service. But in fairness, if there is someone there attempting to make positive change, our community should know about it. With research, the last opportunity commuters had to come face to face with Decamp ownership was at a Town Hall meeting in 2014 but can find little follow up thereafter.

Can you help bring to light the issues we are experiencing and paint a full picture of Decamp’s accountability to its passengers? How do we get our lawmakers involved?

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  1. I couldn’t agree more with this letter and I applaud the author for bringing light to this serious issue.

    The commute to the city is hellish already—but the wait for the Decamp bus is the worst part of the commute. It’s never clear when the bus will next arrive (I stopped checking the “schedule” years ago).

    Last week (and this is typical), I waited 75 minutes in the cold and rain for a bus to arrive. When it arrived, it was standing room only. I stood on the bus for two hours.

    My issue with the commute isn’t the length of time it takes from when you are picked up to when you are dropped off. That is all part of living in the suburbs of a major metropolitan area. My problem with the commute is that I pay $247 a month to stand outside in the cold and rain for over an hour at a time, with no idea if a bus is coming.

    I often miss meetings and commitments at work because of the bus. And my husband and I are considering moving from the area (and others have told me they are too) due to the horrible service Decamp provides.

    When I call Decamp to speak with a supervisor (or someone other than dispatch), I never get a clear answer of who I can talk to.

    I’m so thankful this issue is finally being discussed in a public forum.

  2. The bigger issue is NJ Transit. The rail system is terrible causing more people to take the bus. Decamp cannot handle the extra ridership. In addition, 495 and route 3 have poorly timed construction projects making the commute in North Jersey very painful. If you are looking to blame anyone for this, it falls squarely with Governor Murphy. Corzine 2.0 has never been an elected official and for some reason people in this state believe if you work at Goldman Sachs then you are qualified to run this state. He botched the first snow storm of the year. That isn’t all Decamp’s fault.

  3. “If you are looking to blame anyone for this, it falls squarely with Governor Murphy.”

    -how are people this ignorant not killed crossing the street every day?

  4. Funny because Governor Murphy’s Head of DOT took the blame for it and apologized. Love playing poker against guys like you. Change your handle to “the mark.” Since you probably don’t understand that term I am going to put the wikipedia definition out there for you:

    A person at a poker table that is the focus of attention, often due to their inexperience

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