Business-Class Buses: Are They Worth it?

by  Gowri Chandra | Aug 29, 2016

There are about as many ways to get from New York to Boston as there are Patriots vs. Giants rivalries. There’s the Peter Pan Bus of collective memory, endearing and puritanically plain; the suit- and Harvard undergrad-frequented Amtrak; the super affordable Bolt and Megabus; and of course, the notoriously defunct $1 Fung Wah bus, whose history includes the death of a NYC Chinatown pedestrian.

Buses have long been viewed as the “value” option -- for better or worse -- but one company is changing that. You might have to dig a little deeper into those pockets if you want to take LimoLiner, a Massachusetts-based company that brands itself as a “first-class” experience on wheels. Promised perks include assigned leather seats with footrests and recliners, on-board attendants, large clean bathrooms, free dining and snacks, on-board films, and of course, WiFi.

And its price tag? At the time of writing this article, roundtrip LimoLiner tickets were going for $190 between Boston and New York, whereas an Amtrak round-trip was costing about $135 (Amtrak fares dip to $70, possibly lower, with advance planning, however).

Flights between Boston and New York are of course faster than the five-hour drive, but if you’re not already at the airport making a connection, the added time through security is a hassle. Flights can be more expensive as well, although a quick Google search at the time of publication yielded fares as low as $100 between Boston and New York.

Luxury buses aren’t just an East Coast thing, though. There have been other major bus operations to provide upscale service, but Vonlane is one of the few that offers a similarly elevated price point. The Texas-based company brands itself as a “private jet on wheels,” and connects the Austin, Houston, and Dallas triangle. Just like LimoLiner, it runs about $190 for round-trip tickets.

While these motor coaches aren’t competing on affordability, they are striving to be perceived as efficient -- due to time saved from immediate luggage retrieval, avoiding crowded airport terminals and stations, and curbside boarding at hotels. Still, trains have long been viewed as more reliable than buses for obvious reasons of highway traffic delays, and it seems like this is the biggest hurdle in winning over potential clientele.

This hasn’t stopped luxury motor coaches from expanding, however. A 2014 Miami Herald article forecasted that, “Buses are taking back a big chunk of a travel market that they once dominated.” It remains to be seen if buses will ever have the popularity that trains enjoy, but we do know this: if you’re going to be stuck in traffic, being stuck in traffic in reclining leather seats seems as sweet a balm as any.

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