Bus options abound

GW students with only a few dollars to spare are now able to hop on a bus to New York City and get out of the District.

Starting May 30, Megabus, a subsidiary of Coach USA, will become the second company to open a route between downtown D.C. and New York’s Penn Station that can cost riders as little as $1. BoltBus, a Greyhound subsidiary, also began operation from the District to New York this year.

“We don’t just split the coach market that’s already there,” said Byrony Chamberlain, director of operations for Coach USA. “The one thing we’ve found is that we don’t have the standard kind of customer.”

She added, however, that the competition from BoltBus is “certainly going to affect (Megabus).”

Following the lead of low cost airlines such as Southwest, Megabus and BoltBus offer low-priced tickets for passengers who book early. Prices rise as the departure date approaches.

For BoltBus’s opening week in March, all fares were $1. Megabus will offer free rides and a 50-cent booking fee from May 30 to June 4, its opening week.

Both companies will continue to have at least one $1 seat per trip for passengers who book online well in advance of their departure dates.

Most one-way trips to New York on BoltBus will cost $25 when the ticket is bought from the bus driver before departure. Megabus will cost as much as $21 for a ride to New York, and passengers can book tickets online up to one hour before departure. A Greyhound bus ride to New York costs $22.

Low-cost carriers represent a new business model, said Duane J. DeBruyne, spokesman for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration at the Department of Transportation.

Both BoltBus and Megabus provide wireless internet and power outlets – two features that distinguish them from other low-cost options like Tony Coach, a company that offers bus service to New York’s Chinatown from outside the Foggy Bottom/GWU Metro Station.

“We saw a need in the (Mid-Atlantic) market . that wasn’t being met by any other bus companies,” said Abby Wambaugh, a spokesperson for Greyhound.

Margaret Amenyo, a frequent traveler on Apex Bus, another discount bus company, said the $1 price seems “more than reasonable,” but that she would be unwilling to give up any degree of comfort for that price as the $20 she normally pays for a ticket to New York is also “reasonable.”

She said, “some of the lesser-quality lines have buses with odor problems, like stale cigarettes or just a general unpleasing scent.”

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