David R. Henderson  


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I was out for a pre-dinner walk near my hotel in Rosslyn this evening and I saw a beautiful new bus and next to it a line of people waiting. The suitcases indicated relatively long-distance travelers rather than commuters. I asked a young couple where the bus was going and they said: New York. Fare: $30.00. Bus company: Vamoose. What a great name. The young woman told me that the bus has wi-fi and takes about 4.5 hours. When you think of the TSA hassles, this could be a good deal even for people with high time value. I love free markets!

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CATEGORIES: Business Economics

COMMENTS (13 to date)
J writes:

Fairly sure I've traveled that line, or the one that leaves near the Roslyn metro station, before. It's pretty good, but if you're traveling around a holiday, then the traffic coming into NYC makes it take more than 4.5 hrs.

Falcon writes:

Oh but c'mon David; it would be much more fun to plan an extensive new train or light rail system than be left vulnerable to the vagaries of open market competition that spawns solutions like Vamoose! or Bolt Bus or Mega Bus or any Chinatown bus. For heaven's sake, it's just too risky! Think of the children!

Joe Cushing writes:

Wow, I just paid more than that to go from one Tokyo airport to the other. It was about a 45 min drive. I suspect there was no free market in play there.

mattmc writes:

The last time I took the shuttle to NYC from IAD, I spent 1.5 hours in the security line (only 2 scanners open) and the flight was then delayed 2 more hours due to light rain. Given the typical delays I get flying into LaGuardia, and then the time to get into Manhattan, since neither of the airports is on the subway line, it might come out equal.

On the other hand, the last time I drove to NYC on a Friday night, I spent 2.5 hours lurching through the last few miles before the tunnel.

Joe Kristan writes:

Here in Iowa, the state is trying to get federal cash for a $318 million track upgrade to enable a five-hour $42 train trip from Chicago to Iowa City. While they were lobbying, Megabus started a 4-hour route at $1 to $30. The politicians are still trying to get the train route.

[broken url fixed--Econlib Ed.]

chipotle writes:

Boston to NYC (one way) on Boltbus is ~ $17.

gnat writes:

Vamoose operates as a reseller. If you look at its buses some have no Vamoose decal and some do with "owner and operated" signage of a different company. If you originate in Virginia, Vamoose may stop in Bethesda if it doesn't have a full load lengthening the trip time by 45--60 minutes. Vamoose's price is about 50% higher than Bolt but generally sells out a week ahead of time leaving room for Vamoose and other companies.

Boston--NYC have had constant price wars and the prices are still extremely competitive.

Joe writes:

I'm actually in the middle of a Cincinnati-Chicago round trip via Megabus. It's about a 5:30 ride each way and cost me $40 for the roundtrip. There's an Amtrak train that connects Cincy and Chicago, however it's about 4x more expensive and slower (due to a circuitous rout). The bus is a very convenient service for me as I live/work in Cincy and am going to grad school part-time in Chicago. The “Megabus” also has wifi and outlets which gives me all I need to get work/homework done on the long-ride.

Michael J. Green writes:

Yep, it's quite great. I've used BoltBus to go from NYC to DC and NYC to Baltimore a few times now. It's $35 round-trip. Compare that to the $200+ for round-trip service on Amtrak, and the fact that a few times, BoltBus has been faster than the non-Acela train. Riding Acela could save perhaps 2 hours on the round-trip time, but that would cost another $100.

But hey! Amtrak's proposed light rail system could be a great option. In 30 years.

David R. Henderson writes:

Thanks all for your information. This market is way more extensive than I had thought.

Carl writes:

There are five or six companies in this competitive space. Vamoose, Bolt Bus, DC2NY, Mega Bus...

I'm in my late twenties and I don't really know anybody who travels from DC to NY or vice versa by plane these days unless it's for business travel. There's just no reason for it. Train is an option if you're in the mood to spend a bunch of money.

Charles Twardy writes:

I think these buses are great. But if you're going to compare prices to trains, make sure to pro-rate the cost of the interstate.

Joe Kristan writes:

Charles, the correct measure is the marginal cost of the interstate, not the pro-rated cost. The marginal cost of running a bus on the existing interstate is approximately zero. The marginal cost of upgrading the tracks just between Chicago and Iowa City for passenger trains starts at $318 million.

We've already spent the money on the interstate, and there's no realistic possibility that we will stop doing so. We still can choose not to spend the money upgrading the tracks.

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