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Penn Station: Can the overcrowded station be fixed post-COVID?

Penn Station is over-capacity, scaring NJ Transit riders about returning. Is there a solution that can fix commuters nightmares and COVID concerns?

NJ Transit board approves Academy replacement for Middlesex bus routes
NJ Transit board approves Academy replacement for Middlesex bus routes

Seth Harrison/lohud, The Journal News/lohud

The NJ Transit board unanimously passed a last-minute bus contract during a special meeting Monday night that will cover bus service in Middlesex County until October.

The NJ Transit board, which does not typically have a January meeting, approved a nine-month, $8,377,857 contract with Community Transportation Inc. that goes into effect Jan. 17 until Oct. 16. The Paramus-based company was not chosen through a competitive bid process, but rather chosen as an extension of its existing contract with NJ Transit for other services it provides.

NJ Transit board approves Academy replacement for Middlesex bus routes
NJ Transit board approves Academy replacement for Middlesex bus routes

The no-bid decision was made, according to President and CEO Kevin Corbett, because of the urgency to have the Middlesex routes serviced this month.

The item was put before the board because Gov. Phil Murphy vetoed the board's contract with Academy Bus LLC in November that would have run the service in Middlesex for $32.6 million over three years New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal had recently named Academy in a complaint, accusing the Hoboken-based company of defrauding NJ Transit at least $15 millionover nearly six years by avoiding penalties for missed bus trips.

Before the vote, board member Bob Gordon asked NJ Transit management to explain what measures are being used by the agency to monitor missed trips with the new company.

NJ Transit board approves Academy replacement for Middlesex bus routes
NJ Transit board approves Academy replacement for Middlesex bus routes

Michael Kilcoyne, senior vice president of surface transportation and general manager of bus operations at NJ Transit, said several steps have been taken to ensure private bus contractors are completing the trips, or know when they are not.

Last year, the agency invested in updating its GPS bus tracking system, known as Clever Devices,