World Wide Bus to Begin Roundtrip Service Between Mass., NYC

(NECN: Peter Howe, Newton/Cambridge, Mass.) The busy Boston-to-New York discount bus market is about to get even busier, with a sixth company offering service for as low as $10 each way. Its twist: Serving Boston without actually having to drive into Boston.

World Wide Bus is set to launch service on Wednesday, October 27, on a route from the Alewife MBTA Red Line station in Cambridge down Routes 2 and 128 to the Riverside Green Line station in New York to a midtown Manhattan location near Pennsylvania Station. Service from New York goes to Riverside and then Alewife. By steering clear of South Station in Boston -- origin of New York-bound service from Bolt, Fung Wah, Greyhound, Lucky Star, and Megabus -- World Wide hopes to find its own niche.

"What we're trying to do is to tap into people that didn't really think of using a bus before, because they didn't want to deal with going to South Station,'' World Wide spokesman Eric Brodie said. "I wouldn't want to say that we're actually competing with anybody. What we're actually trying to do is make the Alewife departure and the Riverside departure sort of like a destination, as opposed to an afterthought.'' Being at the end of the Red and Green lines, World Wide is also poised to attract students and public-transit riders who could find it more convenient to take the T to a bus in North Cambridge or Newton rather than downtown Boston.

Intercity bus service will be something new for Alewife, but at Riverside, some Greyhound and Peter Pan buses headed to New York and Western Massachusetts make stops. However, since June, they've only done curb-side drop-offs and pick-ups, MBTA officials said. World Wide will take over the now-vacant bus terminal at Riverside and be the only bus line there offering a full-service terminal.

World Wide will begin with four daily departures each way and eight apiece Saturday and Sunday. Introductory fares are $10 each way until Nov. 18, then it rises to $30 round-trip weekdays and $40 round-trip weekends.

Bolt's known for offering a few promotional seats for as low as $1 each -- under the "Bolt for a Buck" slogan, something other carriers have matched, although most seats are far more expensive than that. Brodie said World Wide will offer gimmick-free fares. "The fares that we have are real fares. Everybody on the bus pays the same amount,'' Brodie said. Worldwide will offer on-board WiFi internet service and electric plugs for computers.

Could the Boston-New York bus market be on the verge of getting oversaturated? John Englert of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation  doesn't think so. "This is really about choice, and we're thrilled to have another carrier providing options for the Boston metro area,'' Englert said.

Perhaps the only way we'll ever know if the Boston-New York bus market gets overserved is if companies begin to drop out of the market. It's worth noting that back in the 1980s and 1990s, as many as 4 million people a year flew the air shuttles from Boston to New York annually, particularly during the heyday of super-discount carriers like PeoplExpress. That's now down to around 2 million, largely because the security hassles after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks have made many business travelers switch to trains, cars, or buses -- or just avoid New York trips -- because a 40-minute New York flight can now wind up taking three hours door-to-door with security and ground transportation factored in.

In rough terms, that is about 130 buses a day worth of people who once flew and now either use another mode or don't travel to New York at all. For travel offered at the right price, clearly there is plenty of demand to travel between Boston and New York.

Among those thrilled with the arrival of World Wide is Erik Stapper, who lives a few minutes' walk from Riverside with his wife and frequently visits New York City, where they own an apartment. He's used Greyhound in the past and says of World Wide, "It will be cheaper -- yes it'll definitely be a better fare -- but it's actually more important that they're here" in Newton, rather than in Boston. "In another two weeks we'll be here to take the bus, so we're very happy.''

With videographer Christopher D. Garvin

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