KUTZTOWN, Pa. - The Carl R. Bieber bus company has gone out of business after more than seven decades of transporting people in Berks County and the Lehigh Valley.
The Kutztown-based company announced its closure Friday evening, citing reduced ridership and mounting expenses.
"We would like to express our sincere thanks to our loyal customers who have supported us over the years," owner Steve Haddad said in a statement emailed to 69 News and posted on the company's website. "We also want to thank our employees whose hard work and dedication contributed to the many successful years of operations."
A hand-written sign posted on the door of Bieber's Inter-City Bus Terminal in downtown Reading alerted riders that all service had been canceled until further notice, effective at 4:30 p.m. Friday.
Taxi cabs and Uber cars were parked outside the terminal at North Third and Court streets, awaiting the scheduled 5:30 p.m. arrival of a bus from New York City.
Another sign, posted at Bieber's headquarters in Kutztown, informed employees that no paychecks would be disbursed on Friday and instructed them to call the office on Monday for more information.
Multiple Bieber employees contacted 69 News earlier in the day Friday about having trouble being paid by the company in recent weeks.
Meantime, the last bus runs on Friday brought to an end 72 years of business for Bieber.
"While we are disappointed in announcing the closure of the company, we are heartened by the countless number of community, civic, religious, recreational and military activities in which the company participated and the magnitude of the people to whom we provided services," Haddad said.
69 News caught up with a long-time Bieber commuter at the Charcoal Park-n-Ride in Lower Macungie Township.
The commuter said she was caught off guard while trying to get her usual Friday evening bus ride.
"I have to head into New York for work and now I am stuck. I'm going to have to drive into New York I guess. And I have a whole month pass I am losing money from," Anjanie Rajpaul of Alburtis said.
The bus company struggled publicly in recent months, following its eviction in July from the Port Authority's bus terminal in New York City. The Port Authority said Bieber owes it more than $200,000 in fees.
Bieber was forced to find a new pickup and drop-off location for its New York City passengers. It managed to settle on a spot at Eighth Avenue and 39th Street in the fall, and just last Friday, the company celebrated the extension of its permit to drop off and pick up passengers at that location.
That permit, issued by New York City, was to be good until February 2020.
As for the bus terminal in Reading, it was listed for sale last year, with an asking price of $575,000. Haddad told 69 News at the time that he was hopeful the new owner would allow Bieber to lease space in the building for its terminal.
Bieber said it will post information related to its closing on social media in the coming days.
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