published Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Chattanooga express busing options grow

EXPRESS BUSING

Greyhound will offer express service from Chattanooga to cities across the country, including Atlanta and Nashville, starting Wednesday. Greyhound Express will travel nonstop to most locations, with only one rest stop on longer routes. For more information, visit www.greyhound.com/express.


EXPRESS ROUTES

Greyhound Express will travel from the Chattanooga station on Airport Road to:

• Atlanta, Macon and Savannah, Ga.

• Chicago

• Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo, Ohio

• Detroit

• Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Orlando, Fla.

• Indianapolis

• Nashville

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Chattanooga's nonstop bus options will increase Wednesday.

Greyhound, one of the nation's largest motorcoach companies with more than 3,700 destinations, will launch point-to-point service from Chattanooga to 14 cities in Florida, Illinois and states in between.

Similar to Megabus, a competing service that came to the Chattanooga area in November, Greyhound Express will offer nonstop drives and amenities such as free Wi-Fi and charging outlets. Passengers booking far enough in advance can secure fares as low as $1 one way.

Other fares often can run around $12 one way or higher, according to the Greyhound Express website.

"Greyhound has been around a while. We continue to evaluate our business and make changes," said Timothy Stokes, a company spokesman. "This is really a new level of service for Greyhound."

This type of service has seen fast growth in the industry over the past five years.

"It's not really a new model, it's a model that's been around for five or six years that people are really starting to understand," said Dan Ronan, spokesman for the American Bus Association.

Express buses take about as long as travel by car, or airplane trips when you add in security lines, Ronan said. But the buses often cost far less. The price, coupled with amenities, has drawn more college students and business travelers.

"We have a totally different demographic than what was the traditional bus traveler," said Dale Moser, president and chief operating officer of Coach US and Megabus.com. "We're getting the traveler who has a $35,000 SUV, but they choose to take Megabus because it's cost-effective."

Moser said the service pulls about 60 percent of its customers from car travelers and another 25 percent from airplane travelers. Moser said he welcomes the competition from Greyhound.

"In these economic times, it's good to have more affordable options to travel," he said. "It's quite flattering that a company that's been around for 70-some years is copying our business model. That must mean we're doing something right."

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