Greyhound Bus Lines has filed only eight applications for new routes in recent months and all have been considered by the Interstate Commerce Commission, an ICC spokesman said yesterday. The spokeman said an ICC official who said Friday that the bus company has 250 applications pending was incorrect.
In a surprise move, Greyhound Bus Lines yesterday cut by 40 percent its commuter service linking Annapolis and Baltimore with Washington. A federal agency said it is investigating whether the unannounced cutbacks violated the law.
Hundreds of commuters using the nine regularly scheduled busines from Annapolis and the 16 regular Baltimore runs were left at bus stops yesterday morning when buses either did not appear or were too full to take on passengers.
Greyhound spokesman Lee Whitehead said the company was unable to make the runs yesterday because buses that normally serve Washington commuters were needed elsewhere. He could not say whether the company will be able to resume normal service on Monday morning.
Whitehead said increased demand for bus service in the Northeast because of gasoline shortages was a major factor in the decision. He said passenger volume has increased 40 percent nationwide and on peak weekends the number of travelers on some routes is up by as much as 117 percent.
But according to a spokesman for the Interstate Commerce Commission, favoring long-haul passengers over commuters is forbidden by law, "The [Greyhound] Washington district people distributed the buses in such a way so that 100 percent of the service denied was denied to commuters," said ICC Regional Managing Director Ivan M. Schaeffer. "That is unacceptable."
Schaeffer said he has ordered an investigation into Greyhound's action.
According to federal law, bus lines "must post notices of schedule changes for a reasonable amount of time prior to the date of the change." Schaeffer defined "reasonable amount of time" as 15 to 30 days, but he said Greyhound gave "no notice at all" of the local cutbacks.
Whitehead conceded that, "No effort was made . . . to notify people [of the cutback], for which we apologize." The decision to divert the buses, he said, was made at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. "We had no time to notify commuters."
"We are making every effort that there will be no shortage [of buses] Monday," said Whitehead, saying the company would attempt to notify people "through the media" if the curtailments continue.
Schaeffer called the Greyhound action "unacceptable" because the company has filed for more than 250 new route applications.
"If they can't service established routes," said Schaeffer, "they shouldn't be looking for more." Schaeffer flew to Washington last night from his Philadelphia office in order to participate in the investigaton.
Schaeffer said Annapolis commuters boarded a bus for Washington yesterday and then were forced off so the bus could go to New York.