Martz Trailways is suspending bus service into New York City and Philadelphia due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Pennsylvania.
The announcement was made Wednesday and goes into effect Friday with a targeted return date of April 14.
"In light of guidance from the federal government that individuals leaving the New York City Metro Area should self-quarantine for 14 days to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and out of an abundance of caution, Martz will discontinue scheduled service into New York City and Philadelphia for two weeks," the company said on its website.
Speaking at a White House Briefing Tuesday, officials said that anyone who recently left New York should self-quarantine at home for 14 days to prevent the virus from infecting those in other regions.
Martz Group, a family owned company, is based in Wilkes-Barre and operates Martz Trailways.
It is estimated about 1,500 passengers a day take the bus to New York City from the Poconos.
In addition, they offer commuter services to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan from Scranton, Wyoming Valley, Wilkes-Barre, Blakeslee, and Panther Valley, New Jersey, along with bus lines to Philadelphia and Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The decision to temporary stop service comes on the heels of a letter written to the transportation company by Rep. Rosemary Brown (R-189) and posted to her social media account Tuesday evening.
"As we work diligently at the local and state levels to have residents comply with the ’Stay at Home’ or ’Shelter in Place’ orders, I am asking you to be strong corporate partners in this effort by halting unnecessary commuter travel," she wrote. "I understand, as we all do, that there are workers who provide for life-sustaining services and have your need of your transportation services. I fear, however, that too many commuters do not currently fall into that category."
On Wednesday, the parking lot at the Mount Pocono Martz Bus Terminal was lined with vehicles at about 60% of its normal weekday capacity.
Before the announcement was made, readers on Pocono Record’s Facebook account expressed concern that the bus company was still traveling back and forth into New York, while others said they had no choice to use mass transportation at this critical time.
"My husband is an essential worker who is currently taking the bus because our car became unreliable to drive into the city. Great timing. But I'm sure other people may be in similar situations. I don't think anyone is happy about having to take the bus. Its stressful and everyone seems to be on edge," wrote reader Aisha Prodani.
After the company announced it was suspending service, Brown thanked the bus company for their "help and attentiveness."
Martz Trailways is offering refunds on tickets along with working with commuters who have monthly passes.
"We apologize to our loyal customers who must find alternative means of travel to work during this time. We recognize that many of you are essential employees in life-sustaining businesses and simply cannot work from home. We can assure you that Martz will be here to support our dedicated and valued customers moving forward from this crisis," the company said in a statement.
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