Now you can travel comfortably between New York City and Toronto without spending your entire budget en route. Neon, a new low-fare bus service from Greyhound Canada and Adirondack Trailways, offers two daily departures from both cities for as little as $1 (there is at least one $1 seat on every bus) -- although a $25-to-$75 price range is more likely -- one way. Buses have video screens, Wi-Fi service and power outlets. Customers board in New York outside Penn Station and in Toronto at the Royal York Hotel. Walk-up tickets cost $85 (one way), and the better deals (the earlier the reservation, the lower the price) are available at www.greyhound.com.
AT the Manhattan Plaza Health Club, on West 43rd Street near 10th Avenue, members often discuss the peculiar challenges of living in a neighborhood that also happens to be the crossroads of the world. But lately, the chats on the treadmills have focused on one particular issue: the swelling ranks of private buses and vans that pick up passengers in the area — not from the Port Authority Bus Terminal, on Eighth Avenue, but from the streets nearby.
“They’re everywhere,” said Piper Smith, an illustrators’ agent who is a regular at the club. “They seem to be reproducing as we speak.”
The largely white vehicles shuttle passenger to and from New Jersey at all hours. During peak travel times, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights, dozens of vehicles line up along both sides of 42nd Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues while customers wait in dense clusters on the sidewalk.
It’s hard to say just how many buses congregate on these blocks, but few doubt that the number is increasing. Norberto Curitomai, the owner of Spanish Transportation Corporation of Paterson, N.J., one of four major busing companies in the area, says that his fleet of 180 vehicles has added 10 to 15 new vehicles each year since 2001.
Like most — though not all — of the companies, Mr. Curitomai’s firm is registered with the city’s Department of Transportation, which allows his vehicles to quickly load and unload passengers by a designated stretch of Eighth Avenue near 41st Street. What particularly vexes local residents, however, is what happens when the buses aren’t picking up passengers.
“These vehicles need to make three left turns to get to the tunnel,” Ms. Smith said of the Lincoln route. “When they’re not being used, they hide all over the neighborhood.”
Pollution is another concern. “When these buses are waiting for their time to pick up and stuff,” she said, “they don’t turn of the motor. It just idles.”
The Downside of Low-Cost Buses
by Graham T. Beck
18 Sep 2008
On a recent Wednesday evening, Erin Brown waited for the Fung Wah bus to Boston with a dozen or so other people on a crowded Canal Street sidewalk. "It's such a crush - the people, the vendors, the cars, narrow sidewalks, narrow streets. I don't know why they leave from here, but the price is right," she said.
Brown is not alone in her sentiment. It often feels as though every inch of Chinatown is jam-packed. Cars clogs street from the Manhattan Bridge to the Holland Tunnel. Sidewalks overflow with tourists, workers and neighborhood residents. Stalls spill out from shops, and lately it seems that every few blocks there is a line of 20 or so people queuing up for an interstate bus.
The buses are nothing new. Since 1998, companies like Fung Wah, using spaces reserved for tour buses or agreed upon spots in the neighborhood, have run curbside operations, picking up and dropping off passengers. The recent surge in travel costs, though, has made more outfits see the benefits of such a low-overhead way of doing business. This means more buses jamming city streets and curbsides and more bus queues on already crowded sidewalks.
It has reached the point, according to City Councilmember Alan Gerson, where there now are more interstate bus pick-ups and drop-offs in Chinatown each day than there are at the Port Authority. Although the competition has driven down prices for travelers, it has created some difficult situations for neighborhood residents, passing pedestrians and local businesses.
September 26, 2008
Jet Set, Meet the Bus Bunch
By TRACIE ROZHON
KENNY BASCOM stood near the steering wheel of his BoltBus, just about to leave from West 33rd Street in Manhattan, bound for Washington. He called his passengers to attention.
"Can I put a rule in?" he asked. "This bus doesn't move unless you smile. And here's another thing: You got cellphones? Use 'em."
There was a buzz of disbelief.
Use the cellphones? Plug in the laptops! Chat with your fellow passengers and laugh - guilt-free - with a friendly driver at the helm and very comfortable seats all around you.
All for $25 or less, sometimes much less, depending on when you reserve. B.Y.O.F. (bring your own food).
Starting about a dozen years ago with the so-called Chinatown buses, which were the first to offer a minimum of frills (and schedules), Route I-95 between Boston and Washington has become jammed with cheap express buses with jazzy names and the design and Web sites to match: BoltBus (online, tap a key and watch lightning strike!), Megabus (a huge, cherubic driver is emblazoned on the side of the bus), DC2NY, Washington Deluxe and others.
Capitalizing on the success of those first Chinatown buses, the big boys got into the business - BoltBus is owned by Greyhound, and Megabus by a large Scottish transportation company, Stagecoach Group, through its subsidiary Coach USA. As the companies refine their service, the cheap express bus experience just keeps changing, competing to offer amenities: BoltBus now offers plugs for electrical appliances; Washington Deluxe has just added Dupont Circle to its list of Washington stops.
Judging by a recent round trip from New York to Washington - down on BoltBus, back on Megabus - the changes are being seen and, for the most part, appreciated by the passengers, a surprisingly diverse group.
August 10, 2007, 12:07 pm
New Bus Shelters Let You Plan Your Shopping and TV-Watching but Not Your Trip
By David W. Dunlap
In the department of missing transit information, the absence of route maps and trip tips at a few of the new bus-stop shelters being installed by Cemusa scarcely rises to the level of outrage.
But mild indignation may be in order, since the same shelters seem to have a full complement of advertising.
On the Avenue of the Americas at 56th Street, for example, riders cannot find out what lines serve the stop, where the buses go after they leave the stop or how to pay their fare, which is no small question for an out-of-towner. They can, however, learn about Verizon’s new BlackBerry 8830 World Edition for $199.99 (after rebate) or contemplate how delicious a Corona Extra or Corona Light might taste about now, just as long as they “relax responsibly.”
Twelve blocks south on the avenue, the shelter is silent on the question of whether riders can expect an M5 or an M6 or an M7 to pull up. Instead it, it lets them know that Glenn Close is starring in “Damages” on the FX network. Oh, yes, and that Verizon BlackBerry. Only $199.99. (After rebate.)
Is this another case of a corporate takeover of the public realm without the full benefit that was promised to the public? Not quite. Cemusa, the Spanish company that won a citywide street-furniture franchise last year, is not to blame.
A Crash in Pennsylvania, and a Cloud Over Mott Street
By FIONA NG
Whenever huge calamities strike abroad - the tsunami in Asia in 2004, say - New Yorkers know that in their ethnically mixed city there is probably an enclave directly linked to the tragedy. This pattern applies to smaller events, too, like a recent bus crash in Pennsylvania that echoed loudly throughout Chinatown.
At 3:30 a.m. May 20, a bus carrying 36 passengers from Chicago to New York went out of control on Interstate 80 in Clearfield County, Pa. The bus zigzagged across the highway and ended up on its side on the road's embankment, leaving 2 people dead and 32 others injured. The cause of the accident is under investigation.