WILKES-BARRE — Schedule changes from Martz Trailways will cut travel times to and from New York City for some Northeastern Pennsylvania riders, inconvenience some others and avoid a 2015 price increase for everyone.
General manager Robert Chepalonis said the changes — which take effect July 14 — are in response to a 20 percent decrease in ridership since 2008, particularly among commuters.
Riders who travel during regular weekday commuting hours should see their service unaffected, he said, but some midday and weekend runs have been cut, and downtown drop-offs have been altered.
“Primarily, the Poconos ends up seeing a reduction,” Chepalonis said.
The line’s four full-service terminals will continue seven-day service, he said, while its smaller locations will now follow the five-day commuter schedule.
Weekend and midday buses to New York City will now only leave from the Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Mount Pocono and the Stroudsburg/Delaware Water Gap terminals.
Weekend trips from Kidder Street will still run as well. The move reduces the number of stops on these runs, Chepalonis said, which will get riders into the city faster.
“We’re from Wilkes-Barre, and we want our people to ride more direct,” Chepalonis said.
He said it was important to Martz to avoid hiking fares, since many commuters are already spending in the range of $500 every month. Instead of increasing prices, he said, “we went through and reorganized the whole thing.”
The new schedules also will free up weekend charter buses, he added, and provide a framework more conducive to Martz’s upcoming transition into online/electronic ticketing. He said the new ticketing system will allow Martz to analyze ridership more closely and make more effective changes in scheduling.
Chepalonis said many former commuters moved back to the city or lost their jobs during the economic downturn, necessitating schedule reorganization, but he believes the trend will eventually reverse.
The changes, he said, will only affect service to New York City, and Philadelphia and Atlantic City schedules remain unchanged. He said no employees have lost their jobs due to the rescheduling.
Martz Trailways is the largest provider of bus service from Northeast Pennsylvania to the surrounding metropolitan areas. It has operated since 1908 when Frank Martz founded the company under the name White Transit Co. in Plymouth. It has since expanded into Washington D.C., Virginia and Florida and also offers service to New York, New Jersey and Canada.