If you’re a business traveler tired of planes and trains, maybe you should look at an automobile — of the bus variety.
“What’s that?” you may ask incredulously. “You’re actually suggesting that we business-suited captains of industry abandon our glamorous jet-set lifestyles in order to get on board… a bus?”
Yes buses, deservedly or not, occupy the lowest rung on the transportation totem pole. But that’s changing for business travelers. In recent years, several luxury bus companies have sprouted up to target business people who have to travel medium distances — distances too long to drive themselves and too short to justify the minimum three-hour hardship of flying.
LimoLiner offers service between New York and Boston (Photo: Facebook/LimoLiner)
I recently decided to test out another company called LimoLiner. In operation since 2003, the Avon, Mass.-based service runs between Boston and New York seven days a week, with three roundtrip runs Monday through Thursday; four on Friday and Sunday; and two on Saturday.
This isn’t your normal, crowded charter bus. Like many of the other business luxury coaches (Hint: These companies tend to use the word “bus” only when absolutely necessary.), these aren’t crammed to the gills with customers (LimoLiner seats 28). They’re cheap, usually under $100 for a one-way ticket. And there’s far more legroom than you’d find on the average economy class flight.
Free Wi-Fi, TV monitors, leather seats and, best of all, lots of breathing room are the big perks offered by the new breed of business travel buses. (Photo: LimoLiner)
LimoLiner coaches have several TVs showing news and movies, plus free Wi-Fi (which you’re sharing with everyone else, so don’t expect to do any high-speed downloading; you should be able to email and do some light surfing).
For my four-hour from New York City to Boston, the driver was an affable gent named Charlie Street, who obviously does the New York-to-Boston route a lot: He got on the bus PA system to warn us about every single major pothole that exists between the two cities.
“I know just about every one,” he told me later. “I try to keep the people informed.”
Legroom comes standard on LimoLiner (Photo: Flickr/ChrisDag)
Well, I appreciated it. Charlie’s pothole alerts allowed us to make sure we were seated and that our drinks secured so that they wouldn’t spill on our laptops.
Oh, yes… the drinks. LimoLiner has an attendant on board serving food and drinks during the ride. For mine, it was a nice woman named Kelly Pfeffer.
LimoLiner attendant Kelly Pfeffer asks if I want to partake of the free snacks. Yes, please. (Photo: Sid Lipsey)
“We have a lot of businesspeople who work in New York and live in Massachusetts,” she tells me. “So you’re bringing people to New York on Monday morning, and on Friday evening, the same people are coming home.”
“We’re competing for the train traveler or possibly the airline traveler,” LimoLiner President and CEO Mark Richardson later told me. “We’re not competing with bus carriers. On LimoLiner, you can reserve your seat and ride first class.
There are downsides, of course. Unlike planes and trains, on buses you are at the mercy of traffic, which can be unforgiving. Fortunately, there was none during our 11:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. run to Boston.
Like LimoLiner, Vonlane, which operates in Texas, caters to business travelers who want an alternative to planes and trains (Photo: Facebook/Vonlane)
But as long as you’re not on a hard-and-fast deadline, a luxury bus offers a nice change of pace for business travel. It’s far less stressful than the seat-cramming, recirculated-air-breathing, baby-screaming, TSA-groping miserable ordeal that is air travel today.
So next time you hit the road, you might want to consider — hitting the road.