It has recently come to our attention that a discount curbside carrier, Megabus, has expressed interest in operating from the University of Delaware. It is with great concern that we ask the university not to entertain this idea for several reasons, most importantly for the safety of our students. Furthermore, we ask that both the City of Newark and the University of Delaware block this company from operating within the confines of the city and campus. We believe that the transportation needs of the university students have already been met by Catch-a-Ride and that the introduction of Megabus to the university campus will undoubtedly lead to the loss of this great asset. It is an unnecessary and dangerous move that will overall prove detrimental to the quality of life for students and families of the university as well as for the residents of the City of Newark.
Catch-a-Ride began as a student owned and operated bus service in 2008 serving the University of Delaware exclusively. Since 2008 its list of destinations has grown to serve southern New Jersey and the New York metro area on a weekly basis during the Fall and Spring semesters, and offers additional service to Staten Island and Long Island for the Thanksgiving and Spring breaks. As parents, we have enthusiastically supported Catch-a-Ride since its inception and stand by their record of excellent customer service, affordable prices, and most importantly, safe transportation of our students time and time again. The safe operation of these buses is carried out by Krapf's Coaches of West Chester, PA and their professional staff has consistently provided Catch-a-Ride with a trustworthy and reliable level of service that Catch-a-Ride has in turn been able to pass down to us as parents. We trust Catch-a-Ride because they are the bus company that was created for students. They ensure our sons and daughters travel with their classmates and neighbors, and have proven attentive to the needs of the students. We believe that the university should support its Blue Hen alumni who have dedicated 4+ years to the University of Delaware as a student and who continue to dedicate their careers to serving the university family with this excellent transportation solution. Catch-a-Ride, whose roots are the university campus, wishes to grow with the university over the foreseeable future and help to make the University of Delaware the decision high school seniors make for years to come. Their growth since 2008 proves their responsiveness to the evolving needs of the university and their ambition to work with the university as the evolution continues.
While Catch-a-Ride has always been responsive to the number of students traveling, having added up to 4 buses at a time, students will instead be forced to fight for a limited number of seats on Megabus buses as they arrive already fully loaded from Washington DC. On Fridays and Sundays it will be especially difficult for our students to find seating as those are peak travel days and instead of being guaranteed seating on a bus serving only the University of Delaware, they will be trying to find tickets on a bus picking up everyone else that is also looking to travel for the weekend. It has also been noted by several in the industry that Megabus on-time-performance is abysmal at best, and with their reputation of notoriously bad customer service, we are concerned that we and our students will not be able to get information on what time late buses will arrive or if they will even show up at all. Catch-a-Ride, on the other hand, has always been prompt in answering all of our calls and providing us with the information that leaves us feeling assured that our sons and daughters are in good hands with a company that cares full heartedly about them. Further complicating the situation, the bus stop for Megabus in New York (as well as other cities all around their network) is constantly being moved due to fighting with New York City, the Department of Transportation, and other official bodies, often with little or no notice. What happens if a student goes to the bus stop to be picked up, but the bus is all of a sudden picking up at a different location and they miss their bus as a result? Will university professors excuse them from missing class because they were not able to make it back to school? Catch-a-Ride has always picked up at the same locations and always calls customers individually to ensure that they are aware of any such service changes. They have always held themselves accountable for any service issues and offer travelers the option of receiving a full refund of their ticket or a complimentary ticket for future use for any situation for which they were at fault. They have also been very accommodating in their handling of last minute changes of plans, allowing students to change the travel date of their ticket rather than forcing them to buy a completely new one. With Megabus eliminating Catch-a-Ride as an option, the only remaining alternative will be Amtrak, which also offers limited seating availability as they also draw from outside markets before arriving at Newark. Additionally, Amtrak has been known to blatantly price gouge during peak travel seasons, especially the days surrounding the Thanksgiving Break, while Catch-a-Ride has maintained the same affordable fares since its launch in 2008. Ultimately, without Catch-a-Ride hundreds of students will be left stranded, forcing parents to take off of work to make the drive to Delaware to pick up our sons and daughters. This is an enormous inconvenience that we would not have to suffer through if we could still rely on Catch-a-Ride.
Furthermore, we find the safety record of Megabus to be a cause for great concern. The following incidents are undoubtedly the mark of a reckless company who continuously puts the lives of its passengers in danger.
1. September 2010: A 13ft 9in tall Megabus was operating on a highway where buses and trucks are not allowed and crashed into a 10ft 9in high railroad overpass, killing 4 people. One of them was a 19 year old Temple University student and another was an 18 year old girl from New Jersey.
2. December 2009: A Megabus double decker rolled over in high winds in upstate New York, sending 9 of the 13 people onboard to the hospital.
3. September 2008: A Megabus was pulled over by police who noticed the bus swerving and the driver subsequently arrested for Driving Under the Influence. The bus was traveling from Chicago to Detroit, a line that serves students at the University of Michigan.
4. October 2011: After vowing it would never happen again, another Megabus was pulled over and its driver arrested for drunk driving, this time on a line serving students at University of Iowa.
5. September 2010: A Megabus traveling from Chicago to Detroit bursts into flames and is completely destroyed in minutes.
6. April 2011: Another Megabus catches fire while traveling from Montreal to Toronto and is also engulfed. One of the passengers was a McGill University student.
7. October 2011: Passengers are left stranded on the side of a highway in The Bronx when a Megabus driver reaches the legal limit for hours spent operating a commercial motor vehicle while en route from Boston to New York.
8. March 2010: A Megabus is pulled over by a Maryland State Police officer who then escorts the bus to a weigh station, where it is found to be 3,800 pounds over the weight limit for highway travel. Passengers were left stranded in Perryville, MD, just outside of the University of Delaware, until another bus was able to come pick them up.
9. March 2012: Port Authority Police Department officer spot checks a Megabus double decker before entering the Lincoln Tunnel and finds it to be 4,900 pounds overweight. The bus is forced to turn back and unload its passengers.
These are all incidents that could have led to much greater injury and further loss of life and we strongly oppose the University of Delaware endorsing a company with such an atrocious safety record. Will the university be conducting spot checks on these buses to assure us that are children are traveling with sober drivers? What will the University of Delaware do to ensure the safety of our sons and daughters when a Megabus filled with university students is forced to pull over and told that it can no longer proceed, stranding those students on the side of a highway? By supporting a company as dangerous as Megabus, it diminishes our confidence in the decision making ability of university officials to keep our children safe. The flagrant negligence of this company puts the safety of our students at risk, while Catch-a-Ride holds safety in the highest regard and proves that by employing Krapf's Coaches, a company with excellent oversight and a safety record so strong that it holds approval from the Department of Defense to transport our military. Catch-a-Ride further demonstrates its emphasis on safety by always having an employee meet the bus and frequently ride the bus to ensure drivers are operating safely and that passengers are comfortable.
We the undersigned implore the University of Delaware and the City of Newark to protect our students from dangerous, irresponsible operators by blocking them from operating within the confines of the city and the campus, and to respect the legacy of a carrier that has been loyal to the University of Delaware, it's students, and it's families, with its excellent safety and service record since 2008. It has been suggested by the University of Delaware that Catch-a-Ride will be able to survive, but we know it to be true that the introduction of Megabus to the university campus will undoubtedly lead to the loss of this great asset. We ask that the University of Delaware and City of Newark protect our first choice in transportation rather than handing our students over to a company that has proven itself to be unreliable and unsafe.