School District’s Largest Bus Contractor Files For Bankruptcy, Routes In Limbo

Judge allows company to temporarily continue operations in New Jersey


Atlantic Express, the company that transports about half of the district’s school children, will not exist after the New Year.

School district officials are waiting to see what happens in the bankruptcy proceedings of the Staten Island, N.Y. based bus company that transports nearly half of the district’s 8,000 students.

Atlantic Express Transportation Corp., which has an office in New Brunswick, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month. The company is offering itself up for sale, but, according to published reports, a two-day auction earlier this month resulted in no bidders for the company’s New Jersey routes.

Schools Superintendent Edward Seto said at the Dec. 19 Board of Education meeting that earlier that day, Judge Sean Lane of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, N.Y. allowed Atlantic to continue to operate the terminal which serves the district.

“They’re expecting the final sale (of the company) in January,” he said.

To help in keeping the company operational in the short-term, the school board at the meeting approved payment of the company’s $343,566 invoice for work completed in December.

District spokeswoman Mary Clark said the district normally would have paid that bill in January.

The company handles 53 of the district’s 121 routes, Clark said.

She said the district is prepared to act if the company does not find a buyer and ceases operations after Jan.1, having created a contingency plan if the bankruptcy court judge had not allowed the company to continue operations in New Jersey.

“We had the routes all bundled for going out for emergency bids,” she said.

Should the company find a buyer for the New Jersey routes, she said, the board is prepared to “recognize” that company.

Atlantic Express operates in five states, including New Jersey. The company has said in published reports that it was forced into bankruptcy because new bidding rules in New York City damaged it business there, and that business in the four other states in which it operates cannot make up for that loss.

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