Schenectady County

Three bus companies battling in price war

Bus companies have spent the past month racing to offer the cheapest rides from the Capital Region t

Bus companies have spent the past month racing to offer the cheapest rides from the Capital Region to New York City.

On Thursday morning, a Chicago city-to-city express bus company will make its debut voyage from the Rensselaer Train Station to Manhattan’s Penn Station with tickets costing as little as $1 each. But by then the company,, will find its trademark blue buses trailing in the race it started to offer inexpensive rides downstate.

MegaBus in mid-October announced plans to open a non-stop bus route to New York featuring $1 tickets, but Adirondack Trailways and Greyhound Lines beat it to the punch. The Hurley-based Adirondack and Dallas-based Greyhound teamed up two weeks ago to offer a MegaBus-style online advanced purchase service for Albany-New York tickets costing as little as $1.

The two bus companies have collaborated locally for over a decade, with some tickets being interchangeable between lines. MegaBus’ advance into the Albany market prompted their Nov. 18 rollout of new services. They have also added more passenger pickup locations — outside the New York State Museum and University at Albany — before leaving the Albany Bus Terminal for New York, said Anne Noonan, Adirondack vice president of marketing and traffic.

“We wanted to offer this convenience to our customers before someone else started offering it,” Noonan said.

MegaBus, a subsidiary of the Paramus, N.J.-based Coach USA, started running buses in the United Kingdom five years ago and brought the service to the Midwestern United States in 2006. In May, the company pushed into the East Coast transit market by opening lines from New York to Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Buffalo and Atlantic City. MegaBus then also started a New York-Toronto line, which Adirondack likewise responded to in August by rolling out an advanced online purchasing service with tickets priced as low as $1.

“They’ve copied our business we’ve been running since 2003,” said MegaBus Director of Operations Bryony Chamberlain.

MegaBus is also bringing New York-bound bus lines to Syracuse, Rochester and Niagara Falls, Ontario. By Tuesday, the Albany line had 1,217 bookings for the next two months.

MegaBus will run four trips out of Rensselaer each day, starting at 7 a.m. The company will initially operate single-level, 57-seat buses in the Albany area, though it might eventually bring to the area some double-decker, 81-seat buses.

“Once our wheels start turning, we expect to see more bookings,” Chamberlain said.

To snag cheap seats on MegaBus, Adirondack and Greyhound buses, travelers will need foresight. MegaBus guarantees $1 tickets only on bookings made at least 45 days in advance. Travelers can still purchase Adirondack and Greyhound tickets to New York at the Albany bus terminal, which the Dallas company owns, though the chances of immediately getting the cheapest tickets there are slim.

On Tuesday, the cheapest tickets for MegaBus’ debut rides out of Rensselaer cost between $29 and $34 each. At that price, impromptu MegaBus bookings are on par with Adirondack’s higher rates.

Adirondack and Greyhound run a combined 20 bus trips from Albany to New York daily. Travelers appear to have embraced the new bus services, with Adirondack ridership being up 5 percent over the Thanksgiving weekend, Noonan said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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