Express bus service between five South Florida destinations gets rolling this weekend.
And, Florida Gulf Coast University is one of the stops.
OurBus, a New York City-based tech company that specializes in intercity and crowd-sourced bus routes, is expanding into Florida, with a new route connecting Tampa to Miami, with stops in Sarasota, Fort Myers and Fort Lauderdale.
It kicks off Friday. Tickets may be purchased at www.ourbus.com or by downloading the free OurBus app from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.
The service initially will run Friday through Monday, expanding to seven days a week in early July.
Promotional fares of $10 one-way will be available for the first two weeks or so. After that, regular fares will range from about $15 to $30 each way, said Axel Hellman, one of three company founders.
The Florida boarding locations: Florida Gulf Coast University in south Fort Myers; downtown Tampa, across from the Amtrak station; Sarasota at Cattlemen Road in front of Burlington Coat Factory; Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Miami International Airport.
Although the local pick-up and drop-off point is a bus loop at an FGCU parking lot, OurBus isn’t only for university students and staffers.
There’s no parking at FGCU set aside for the express bus users. Most will need to get a lift, either from family and friends, a cab or a ride-hailing service.
Still Hellman thinks leisure travelers and budget-minded local families will respond.
He said OurBus expanded here because “Fort Myers and Sarasota are two of the largest cities in the country that don’t have express long-distance bus service.”
Without such service – and no nonstop flights from Fort Myers or Sarasota to Miami, for example – people are obliged to make long drives.
But, “taking the bus is more convenient, and more environmentally friendly,” Hellman said.
And, an express bus can be a time-saver.
Greyhound has service to Miami International from the Rosa Parks station in downtown Fort Myers. Its Saturday trip takes an estimated four hours and 50 minutes one-way, and includes a transfer.
On OurBus, the trip takes an estimated two hours and 40 minutes, and requires no transfer.
OurBus partners with existing bus companies to deliver its service. In Florida, the partner is My South Bus Tours LLC, better known as International Limo of South Florida, based in Pembroke Pines.
The bus and limo company will supply drivers and motor coaches that typically seat 56 passengers, Hellman said.
Traveler perks include reclining seats, free wi-fi, individual charging ports, sanitized restrooms, free water and free rescheduling.
The company also is offering a membership program. For a sign-up fee of $49.99, members get 50 percent discounts on 10 one-way fares.
OurBus, launched in 2016, grew its U.S. East Coast service this year with several new routes, including Philadelphia to Washington, D.C.; New York City to Philadelphia – and starting this holiday weekend – Newark, New Jersey to Washington, D.C.
OurBus also serves the Philadelphia suburbs with daily, express bus service to New York City on its Main Line route, which launched in December 2017.
And by the end of the year, Hellman said OurBus aims to start several other routes addressing “transportation deserts” in Florida: locations where there is limited rail, air or bus service.