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Megabus Suspending All Service to and from New York City

by on March 26, 2020 12:18 PM

Editor's note: Shortly after the original publication of this story, Megabus announced it is suspending all service to and from New York City. The story has been updated throughout to reflect the company's announcement.

As New York City sees a massive surge in COVID-19 cases and the White House Coronavirus Task Force has urged anyone who has been in or left the city to self-isolate for 14 days, Megabus announced it will suspend all service to and from the city until April 9.

The announcement comes after many communities —including the State College area — expressed concerns about the continuing daily service to and from New York that had operated until Thursday morning.

"In an abundance of caution and supporting the recommendation that anyone traveling from New York self quarantine for 14 days, we have suspended all Megabus service in and out of New York City through Thursday, April 9th," a statement said. "Coach USA will continue to run our local commuter services on the current reduced schedules.  These services provide a safe means of travel for those essential workers fro whom it is vital that they are able to travel to their place of work, in particular healthcare and utility workers."

Passengers booked on trips in and out of New York will receive an email about rescheduling, the company said.

Megabus services between State College and other areas, including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, were still scheduled.

Until Thursday, a Megabus had been scheduled to depart New York each day at 11:35 a.m. and arrive at the North Atherton Street Walmart parking lot at 4:45 p.m. Buses also were scheduled to depart from the parking lot at 3:15 p.m. with scheduled arrival in New York at 8:15 p.m.

Numerous Centre Region residents expressed concerns about the continuing service in messages sent to StateCollege.com and posted to social media.

Prior to Megabus's suspension of services, there was little local officials could do apart from advocating to state and federal legislators.

Patton Township Manager Doug Erickson said his office had received eight to 10 complaints in the past few days.

"We're advising that we do not have the authority to tell Megabus what to do and we're advising them to contact the governor's office, because it would require some kind of state action," Erickson said on Thursday morning.

Erickson said the township reached out to state Sen. Jake Corman's office for guidance as well. 

Charter bus services were deemed non-life-sustaining and were part of the governor's statewide temporary shutdown, but transit and intercity bus service was allowed to continue.

Centre Region residents were not alone among Pennsylvanians in their concerns about intercity bus travel to and from New York. 

Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown sent a letter to Wolf on Wednesday urging him to halt interstate bus transport and private interstate licensed van transportation from New York.

"These modes of transportation have exposed the citizens of my city to unreasonable and uncontrollable opportunities for the possible transmission of COVID-19," Brown wrote. "The City of Wilkes-Barre does not have the capabilities to enforce self-quarantine and has no way of determining who may in fact have contracted COVID-19 or been in contact with a COVID-19 positive person upon their arrival in Wilkes Barre."

State Sen. John Yudichak, whose district includes Wilkes-Barre, said on Thursday that he has asked the U.S. Department of Transportation to temporarily suspend all non-essential bus and van routes between Pennsylvania and New York and New Jersey. 

"As we have seen an increasing amount of positive cases of COVID-19 in Luzerne County in the last few days, suspending these routes is imperative to containing the spread of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania," he wrote.

Wolf was asked on Wednesday afternoon about limiting travel between Pennsylvania and New York/New Jersey. His answer:

"I think there are things every state can do but I think we need to be a little bit careful here. The outbreak in Pennsylvania has been spread by more than just folks coming in from neighboring states or even people traveling domestically. I think we have to be a little bit careful about how we treat our neighbors. There are people from New York and New Jersey who have homes in Pennsylvania, second homes in some cases, who are self-isolating there. And to the extent they do the self-isolation, to the extent they stay at home, they are actually helping the situation here in PA as well as in their home state. We will continue to monitor the situation but I think the key is what we need here in Pennsylvania, whoever is here in Pennsylvania is to stay home and stay safe and stay calm."

On Thursday, Wolf was asked specifically about buses and said it was an issue his administration was addressing.

"That does pose an issue we have to address. We’re doing that right now," he said.

As of Thursday morning, Pennsylvania has 1,687 cases in 48 counties and 16 deaths related to COVID-19, according to the state Department of Health. Centre County has nine confirmed cases.

New York City has had 21,873 cases and 281 deaths from COVID-19 as of Thursday morning, according to the city's health department.



Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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