Thursday, September 23, 2010

BoltBus, RedCoach, other bus lines go for business travelers - USA Today

Here's a story in the USA Today about how bus companies are pursuing business travelers and are looking to compete against the airlines and Amtrak in this market segment. Some article highlights:
  • "Bus officials say that when factoring in security screening and getting to and from the airport, a regional bus trip doesn't take much longer than a short-haul flight. And they say that the idea of catching a bus to save money and bypass the hassles of flying is catching on."
  • "Peter Pan says they got some new converts after record-breaking flooding in Rhode Island in March prevented Amtrak trains from running."
  • "Corporate travel managers aren't flocking to the bus, says Kevin Mitchell of the Business Travel Coalition. But with work-friendly conveniences such as Wi-Fi and electrical outlets, the bus is being viewed as a potential option for some corporate trekkers who would normally hop on an airline shuttle."
  • "BoltBus is a joint venture by Peter Pan and Greyhound that launched in March 2008; it can make a trip from New York to Washington in a little more than four hours for an average fare of $19" (BoltBus claims 2 hours from Philly to NYC midtown even during rush hour)
  • By comparison, "Amtrak has more to worry about," an industry insider says, noting its slower regional trains. "As long as you aren't extremely time-sensitive, the bus experience is likely to be cheaper and more comfortable."
This is for sure happening, these bus services are pretty good now. I've taken BoltBus and MegaBus and they are both sufficiently clean, comfortable, on time, and most importantly they are quite cheap. I'd take a bus for business travel along the NEC for sure though it would not be my first choice, Amtrak is just more comfortable. Note that on these buses the WiFi rarely seems to work and sometimes the AC power does not work; this has been my experience anyway on multiple occasions so don't count on that being there.

Could a bus service be used by the Philly-NYC commuter? I'm not sure but I'm inclined to think no. BoltBus claims 2 hours between Phi and NYC for nearly all their services, even during rush hour, but there is just no way that can hit that regularly. If there's a jam up on the GW or the Lincoln (not sure how they get to the island), which is like every day, you're looking at 3 hours easy. I guess if someone can deal with a 3 hour one-way commute then the bus is an option. For me my Phi-NYC commute time ceiling was 2 hours one way max and the only way to hit that was via Amtrak.


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