NEWBURYPORT — C&J Bus Lines will uproot from its Newburyport location next month in favor of a new, nearly completed terminal in Seabrook after more than 30 years of service in the city.
On Nov. 15, C&J will begin operating out of its new transportation center at 13 Batchelder Road, Seabrook, the former site of the town's Sam's Club building, which is about seven miles from its current Newburyport bus stop and commuter parking lot on Storey Avenue.
The bus line will continue to offer limited weekday Boston South Station commuter service from Newburyport, although C&J President Jim Jalbert said the company will no longer be running its Newburyport station, and is "handing it back" to the state Department of Transportation.
The company, based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, has been serving Newburyport since 1987. C&J buses go to Boston's South Station, Logan Airport and New York. The company also has locations in Dover, New Hampshire; Ogunquit, Maine; and Tewksbury.
Jalbert said the Seabrook property will offer more space for secure parking, a "cutting-edge" terminal building, and additional routes to New York City, all of which the company had originally hoped to add to its Newburyport location but could not make happen through "many good faith attempts" in recent years.
"What we built in Seabrook is what we wanted to build in Newburyport," said Jalbert. "It was purpose-built, there's plenty of parking, and it's all security controlled... We wanted to do this in Newburyport, we just couldn't get it done."
Mayor Donna Holaday said she was disappointed to see C&J leave the city after many years as a valuable amenity for area residents. In the near future, she said she hopes to begin considering the next use of the commuter lot.
"It's certainly a loss for the city. This was a place where you could leave your car for up to two weeks if you were traveling, but I understand this is a business decision based on numbers," said Holaday. "But as we recover from this, I think we need to take a look at what makes sense for this property with MassDOT. Maybe another transportation company will come back once things start to pick up again."
C&J secured the former Sam's Club building in Seabrook last year, and was forced to shut down its operations from March through August because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jalbert said the costs of the shutdown, as well as the dramatic drop in the number of commuters taking the bus, took a major financial toll on C&J, ultimately giving reason for the company to consolidate to its new Seabrook location.
"We can't financially operate the two facilities now," he said. "We believe we have been good stewards of the Newburyport facility and we did that despite things that were beyond our control."
Jalbert also said he believes the pandemic has sparked a longterm, "dramatic" change to the public transportation business that will ultimately see a reduction in the number of users.
"I believe people have found that working from home for corporations works, and people are working from home across the country now," said Jalbert. "We don't think it's going to come back for a long time."
Bill Manzi, town manager for Seabrook, said he was pleased with the company's relocation.
"We're delighted that C&J is here. They're going to bring jobs, tax revenue, and obviously redevelopment of the site which had gone vacant. On all scores, we're really happy that they're coming," he said.
For more information on C&J's Seabrook location or to view schedules, visit www.ridecj.com
Staff writer Jack Shea covers Newburyport City Hall. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3154. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.