AMITY — Klein Transportation and OurBus, an online bus scheduling service, are launching two pilot projects in Berks County to increase bus service following the closure of long-time regional bus service Bieber Tourways in February.
“The residents of Reading and the surrounding areas have been asking for better transportation for years, and there is clearly a need,” said Axel Hellman, co-founder of OurBus based in New York City. “Reading is the largest city in Pennsylvania without a bus service.”
Shortly after Bieber went out of business Feb. 8, Klein, an Amity Township-based charter bus company, began providing limited daily rides from Amity and Muhlenberg townships and Kutztown, and Wescosville and Hellertown in Lehigh County to New York City.
As of Dec. 7, a bus stop at Fifth and Penn streets will be added to its daily schedule to New York City.
Hellman said the stop at bus station 2 will be added as a pilot project for six weeks. The company then will evaluate whether to continue it.
Hellman expects that stop will be busy, noting many people in Reading like to visit relatives in New York.
“This will be the first stop in Reading since Bieber shut down,” Hellman said.
He anticipates more riders will use the stop because of its convenient location, noting the closest other stop is at the Fairgrounds Square Mall parking lot in Muhlenberg Township.
The service provides three buses to New York City on Friday and Sunday, and two buses Monday through Thursday and Saturday. In New York City, the buses drop off passengers at 369 Park Ave. and pick up at 51 Madison Ave.
Hellman said there are no spots available at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, which has a 15-year waiting list.
The second pilot project is two days of service to Philadelphia around the Thanksgiving holiday. The bus will also stop in King of Prussia.
Buses will pick up on Nov. 27 and Dec. 1 starting at 12:25 p.m. in the Kutztown University parking lot on College Boulevard and at 1 p.m. at the Fairgrounds Square Mall parking lot. The bus will stop in Douglassville and King of Prussia, arriving in Philadelphia at 2:45 p.m. at Ludlow Street, west of 38th Street, near University of Pennsylvania. Return trips will leave Philadelphia at 4:15 p.m.
The Philadelphia project is aimed at college students in Berks who have family in the Philadelphia region.
“There are many students who go to college in Reading and Kutztown and go home for Thanksgiving to visit relatives,” said Alison Klein Sherman, vice president of Klein Transportation.
If this pilot project is a success, she said, a similar service will be offered during winter break.