On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Mercer County and final order of the Department of Transportation.
Bischoff, King and Polow. The opinion of the court was delivered by Polow, J.A.D.
On July 24, 1978 DeCamp Bus Lines (DeCamp) petitioned the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to permit discontinuance of all of its regular intrastate bus routes in New Jersey. After extensive hearings permission was denied and no appeal was taken therefrom.
On May 16, 1980 DeCamp notified the Commissioner of Transportation that it would discontinue all its regular and charter intrastate service in New Jersey. Notices to that effect were posted on its buses indicating that service would be discontinued on June 30, 1980. Since no formal application had been made to
the Department of Transportation (DOT), DeCamp was ordered to continue service pending compliance with N.J.S.A. 48:2-24 which prohibits discontinuance of service by a public utility without permission of the Board of Public Utilities Commissioners.
DeCamp then sought a declaratory judgment in the Chancery Division recognizing its right to discontinue service without compliance with N.J.S.A. 48:2-24. The Chancery Division judge, concluding that DeCamp was in effect attempting to appeal from an administrative determination, transferred the entire matter to the Appellate Division.*fn1
DeCamp has for many years provided intrastate and interstate bus service, including regularly scheduled routes and charter service. It operates a number of interstate routes, not involved in this suit, which make up the bulk of its business. Of 107 busses, 86 are used for interstate transport, 8 for charter service and 13 are used for intrastate routes. DeCamp holds four intrastate Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity. One licenses charter service while the other three license the following regular intrastate bus routes:
Route # 22 -- Jersey City to Caldwell Route;
Routes # 145-46 -- Morristown to Newark Route;
Route # 32 -- Nutley to Union Route (currently operated by Arrow Bus Lines pending application to transfer the route from DeCamp to Arrow).
Evidently the intrastate routes have been unprofitable for a long time, although there has been financial improvement during the last few years. On DeCamp's 1978 petition to the BPU*fn2 to discontinue or transfer all its regular bus routes (excluding charter and interstate operations), the agency concluded that despite DeCamp's losses on intrastate ...