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Competitors beat MegaBus to $1 bus service

Competitors beat MegaBus to $1 bus service

Capital Region bus companies have spent the past month racing to bring to the area the cheapest ride

Capital Region bus companies have spent the past month racing to bring to the area the cheapest rides 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 Penn Station with tickets costing as little as $1 each. But by then the company, MegaBus.com, will find its trademark blue buses trailing in the race it started to offer inexpensive rides downstate.

A month after MegaBus in mid-October announced plans to open an non-stop bus route to New York featuring $1 tickets, 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-like online advanced purchase service for Albany to New York tickets costing as little as $1.

The two bus companies have collaborated locally for more than 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 Adirondack Vice President of Marketing and Traffic Anne Noonan.

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

MegaBus, a subsidiary of 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 to Toronto line, which Adirondack likewise responded to in August by rolling out an advanced online purchasing service for tickets as little 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, Ont. By Wednesday, the Albany line had 1,217 booking for the next two months.

MegaBus will run four trips out of Rensselaer each day, starting at 7 a.m. MegaBus 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.

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