On the first day of bargain bus service from New Haven to Boston, Neil Pandora found one good reason to head up for a Red Sox game.
“It was a dollar,” Pandora said, as he waited to board a new blue MegaBus outside Union Station.
The international bus company Thursday started offering trips to Hartford and Boston for as little as $1; prices vary by day and by trip.
It’s a service that New Haveners have long been clamoring for. Two years ago, bus advocates tried unsuccessfully to get discount operator Bolt Bus to add a New Haven stop to service between New York and Boston.
Beginning Thursday, at least half of that dream has come true. MegaBus is now offering four-times-daily non-stop service to Boston by way of Hartford. Prices on the website range from $1 to $8 one way.
Dennis Lyons, a spokesman for Dattco, the company that operates the MegaBus franchise in New England, said the current average price from New Haven to Boston is $1.83. The company always has at least one $1 seat on all trips. After the $1 seats are taken, prices go up as more seats are booked, he said.
For the first 15 days in New Haven, prices won’t go above $15, Lyons said. After that, they may rise but will remain below the lowest competitor price, he said. “We always make sure we are the cheapest.”
Lyons said MegaBus service to New York is a possibility in the future, but won’t happen for at least six months since Metro North already offers fairly affordable transit to the city.
Pandora, who lives in Branford, said he used MegaBus for a round-trip journey to Washington D.C., for $2.50. It’s a “no frills” way to travel, he said.
“They know their demographic,” Pandora said. The company clearly caters to college students, he said. You can see that from the “goofy logo” and the free wi-fi and outlets at every seat, he said.
On Thursday 10 a.m., Pandora was boarding the second bus of the day. With a few taps and swipes of his iPhone, he had his reservation number ready to show it to bus driver Danny Colon.
On Pandora’s heels were two of the college-aged kids he had been talking about. Jonathan Dilger and Aryanah Haydu were on their way to Boston to look at Boston College, where Dilger will be a freshman in the fall. He said they’re making the round trip for a total of $16, the best price he could find anywhere.
Colon, the driver, said he thought he’d be driving an empty bus the first day, but the service is already filling up. “We’re getting a lot of people coming from Boston” and going back, he said. “That’s great.”