There’s a new option for Syracuse passengers looking for low-cost bus service to the Big Apple.
OurBus started its first round of express trips from Syracuse to New York City on Friday, with plans to offer services on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The company’s website promises “comfortable and luxurious” service from Syracuse to New York City, with reclining seats, free wi-fi, personal charging ports, sanitized restrooms, free water and free rescheduling.
Bus tickets can be purchased through their website or the OurBus app for an average price of $15. Axel Hellman, OurBus co-founder, said the price of tickets will rise to between $25 to $35 in the next few weeks.
The Syracuse pick-up and drop-off site is located at Waverly Avenue in front of the Schine Student Center on Syracuse University’s main campus.
OurBus launched in 2016, and uses crowd-sourcing and analytics to determine new routes to and from New York City. That’s how the idea for a route from Syracuse started.
“We got the request and we knew that we had bus companies that wanted a new route to start,” Hellman said.
Hellman said the idea for the route came in part from requests by Syracuse University students who wanted more routes to New York City available. He said the company may do special back-to-school trips for this coming fall semester.
But the routes are not just for Syracuse University students, but for the public as well.
“I want to stress that it’s not just for college students. Anyone can take the bus, it just happens to be near it,” Hellman said.
The company also offers pick-up locations in Ithaca and Binghamton that have been running since August and September of last year.
Hellman said OurBus is a tech company that works with bus companies to supply them with all of technology, scheduling and customer service to perform the routes.
The OurBus app, which is available through Apple Store app or Google Play Store app, allows customers to track their bus in real time. Bus drivers and transportation planners share travel updates with customers in real-time through the app and through social media.
Hellman said the company plans to expand the schedule of buses to and from Syracuse to weekdays after four to six weeks of weekend-only trips.
“Once we’re running for a few weeks, we can have enough people to survey about how the company is doing and what times they want to go on,” Hellman said.
Frequent travelers can purchase memberships to get even lower fares – like 10 intercity tickets for $9.99 each, valid for 60 days. Hellman said the company recently stopped selling OurBus Select program memberships due to high interest, but they will be available for purchase again in the next couple weeks. After paying the initial membership fee, customers will be available to purchase tickets for fifty percent off.
Mario DaRocha Jr. is the vice president of operations for MJM Travel Group Inc., the company OurBus works with for the Syracuse bus routes.
He said the time between the initial idea of a route between Syracuse and New York City and implementation was about 30 days.
“There was bunch of practice runs and there’s definitely a lot of people that want to go to New York and vice versa,” DaRocha Jr. said.
The experience with Ourbus isn’t the negative one some people would associate with bus trips, he said.
“It’s the experience of the service that the customers will enjoy and honestly rely on,” DaRocha Jr. said.