Management & Operations

Camptown Banks on History to Face the Future

Posted on January 1, 2006 by Teresa Basich, Editorial Assistant

Camptown Bus Line Inc. celebrated a milestone in 2005 — 50 years of service to the Newark, N.J., area’s traveling public. With such a rich history, the bus operation doesn’t see any reason it can’t continue. Of course, there are always new challenges to address, but the company’s commitment to hard work and efficiency give it an edge with which to face such hurdles. Modest beginnings
Like many bus operations, Camptown comes from modest beginnings. Founders Burton Barr and Thomas Zambolla were originally gas station owners, without a thought of starting up a bus operation. “They did a repair job on a fellow’s bus, and when the bus was completed the fellow didn’t have the money to pay for it,” says Larry Barr, son of Burton Barr and vice president/superintendent of maintenance for Camptown. “The bus was parked in the gas station for a while, and then they finally put a mechanic’s lien on the vehicle and they ended up owning it.” Not knowing what to do with the vehicle, Barr and Zambolla let it sit in their garage for months until a few people approached them about renting the bus for a trip they were planning. The rest, as they say, is history. Camptown’s fleet, now owned and operated by the founders’ sons, is composed of 85 school buses, eight motorcoaches (five MCI, three Van Hool) and one minibus. The operation offers daily service to Atlantic City, charters to Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Casino Resorts in Connecticut, as well as transportation for several community schools. While the company specializes in tour and charter, it makes an effort to offer numerous services to accommodate a variety of clients, including church groups, wedding parties, concertgoers and sports fans, to build a diverse customer base. To enhance these services, Camptown recently added two new Van Hool C2045 coaches to its fleet, equipped with DVD/VHS entertainment systems. Although it does have a Website, Camtown doesn’t do anything extraordinary to market its services, capitalizing instead on the company’s longstanding history and experience in the industry. “Hopefully, people recognize the fact that we’ve been in business for 50 years and that we know what we’re doing,” says Barr. Economic challenges
Despite being an industry mainstay, the company is not without its concerns. “Our biggest challenge right now is probably the economy,” Barr says. The operation is feeling the effects of a downturn, especially on its Atlantic City tours and various leisure trips. “Most of the people [on these routes] are retired senior citizens,” he says. “With the economy being the way it is, they’re watching their funds.” Rising fuel costs are another challenge Camptown must take on. “In this area the state won’t allow for any surcharges or anything like that on your contracts for fuel, so we’re eating the costs,” Barr says. To reverse the damage of these challenges Camptown aims to contain its costs as much as possible.

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