BOSTON (CBS) — What the Acela Train did to the airline shuttle service, buses are now out to derail Amtrak on trips between Boston and New York.
On Wednesday, Greyhound/Peter Pan will introduce its Express service with nine new non-stop trips originating at South Station. While the travel complex is best known for its rail and MBTA Red Line, buses are gaining market share with low prices and more service.
On a typical weekday afternoon, as many as five buses will depart hourly from the bus terminal heading out on the Mass Pike. They could be Greyhound, Bolt, Megabus, Fung Wah and Lucky Star. Fares purchased on line could be as low as $1 between cities. Fares during the week are more likely to be $15.
To get these fares, people have to book online. Walk-up fares could cost you $30 a trip.
Not only are the low fares an attraction, but wi-fi on most buses is a major plus for the younger rider, as are movies and the chance to listen to music on phones and other electronic gear. Being able to stay in touch and notify friends of arrival time by phone on the road is also important.
Riding a bus is now in. The equipment is much better and the time difference between the train and the bus is not that much different.
When the Acela began its so-called high speed travel to New York a decade ago, Amtrak had about 19 percent of the corporate business. The airlines had the rest. Rail now represents 53 percent of this business and the days of rolling out another plane to meet peak demand are long gone.
Other factors that benefited rail travel in the last decade are the lack of security lines and trips from center city to center city.
The Greyhound/Peter Pan combination will now have a schedule of 15 daily trips to New York, nine new Express buses and about 14 weekday Bolt Bus departures a day. Those totals 38 trips and a capacity of nearly 2,000 seats a day.
Corporate accounts are continuing to increase their trips on Acela and the Regional Amtrak service. But just as low cost airlines cut into the legacy carriers, price determines who is going to get the business.
Another growing audience for the increased bus service is the foreign visitor to the U.S. Foreigners are used to bus travel and they want to visit many places including the countryside.