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NJ reaches $20.5M settlement with bus firm over missed trips

February 11, 2022 GMT

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A bus company accused of overcharging New Jersey Transit for missed trips and over-billing for hours and miles driven will pay more than $20 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the state, the attorney general’s office said Friday.

Acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck said in a statement it was the largest False Claims Act settlement outside the health care sector in state history.

The settlement stems from when the state joined a whistleblower lawsuit in 2020 against Hoboken-based Academy Bus LLC, which bills itself as the largest privately owned and operated transportation company in the country.

The complaint alleged Academy failed to report tens of thousands of missed trips over a six-year period ending in late 2018 to avoid assessments under its contract with New Jersey Transit.

Most of the trips were on routes serving the Hudson County waterfront, including service to New York City. Riders were often left delayed or stranded.

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The lawsuit also alleged the company violated state false claims and unjust enrichment laws, and seeks damages and civil penalties.

Under the settlement, Academy makes no admission of wrongdoing or liability.

Academy operates charter and tour buses in the eastern U.S. between Boston and Miami, according to its website. The complaint alleged the NJ Transit missed trips were the result of Academy shifting drivers from local routes to its more profitable charter routes.

A message seeking comment was left with Academy.