Take the bus with all the trappings of true luxury
“Luxury” and “Bus” don’t often appear together, but luxury buses do, in fact, exist. I found a dozen current operators around the country.
To me, the deal breaker for a luxury bus is one-bytwo seating, such as you find in domestic first class on regional planes. And that means 20 to 30 seats in a standard intercity bus that normally holds 50 to 60 seats. Although many other bus companies claim to offer “luxury” service with leather seats and such, they use the usual two-by-two seating, which by my book is never “luxury.” True luxury bus services generally offer some combination of additional onboard services:
■ A lavatory
■ Wi-Fi and/or streaming video
■ Snack and beverage service
■ An onboard attendant in addition to the driver
■ Free checked baggage
Luxury buses typically operate nonstop between endpoint terminals, but some longer routes involve intermediate stops. Most require advance reservations and most offer modest discounts for online purchase and round trips. Luxury bus services are all operated by independent, small lines; Greyhound and Megabus do not compete in this market.
1. New York City to Washington, D.C. Frequent bus service on independent lines between the New York and Washington metro areas has been available for more than a decade. In New York, most buses load and unload near Penn Station, although a few also stop at other locations as well. In the Washington area, some serve downtown, typically at DuPont Circle, but others concentrate on suburban Maryland and Virginia stops. Shortest travel times start at four to four-and-ahalf hours; trips to/from more remote stops can add an hour or more.
Four lines operate luxury buses in the New YorkWashington market: BestBus “Prime,” (bestbus.com/ pages/prime.aspx), Tripper Bus “Elite,” (tripperbus.com), Vamoose Bus “Gold,” (vamoosebus.com/ pages/gold.aspx), and Washington Deluxe “LUX” (washny.com/index.php). One-way fares are capacity controlled, starting at around $35 and going as high as $75.
2. Other Northeast. C&J Bus Lines (ridecj.com) connects Boston and New York with several cities in eastern Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Concord Coach Lines (concordcoachlines.com) connects New York with Portland, Maine, and Concord and Nashua, New Hampshire. Dartmouth Coach (dartmouthcoach.com) connects New York with Dartmouth and Lebanon, New Hampshire. Hampton Jitney (hamptonjitney.com) connects New York with the posh eastern Long Island centers. Hampton Luxury Liner (hamptonluxuryliner.com) has done the same, but is currently down for the winter. The primary value proposition is comfortable transport in areas with little or no Amtrak service and either no airline service or inconvenient airline schedules.
3. Florida. Red Coach (redcoachusa.com/theexperience) operates “First Class” services linking Atlanta, Miami, Orlando and Tallahassee. Most routes have no Amtrak service and only indirect air service.
4. Texas. Vonlane (vonlane.com) operates a luxury bus network connecting Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Oklahoma City. Apparently, this appeals mainly to folks who don’t like today’s airport hassles or Southwest’s close-packed coach product.
5. California. Although not strictly a luxury bus by my definition, Cabin (ridecabin.com) runs mostlydaily overnight round trips between San Francisco and Santa Monica with buses outfitted with private sleeping compartments — and no conventional seats. Online graphics remind me of old-time Pullman upper berths, with enough room to stretch out flat and little else. But the Southern Pacific’s classic overnight Lark all-sleeper train is long gone, so it’s the only game in town.
A true luxury bus will have one-by-two seating.