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Greyhound Launches Express Service from Atlanta

September 7,2011

From ajc.com

Greyhound is rolling out its first express service in the Southeast, with routes from Atlanta to Charlotte and to a hub in Richmond.

The target market for the bus line: college students, military personnel and others looking for an alternative to driving or flying.

The express routes start Sept. 7. Tickets went on sale Thursday with a different pricing scheme from regular bus service: The first tickets sell for $1, with a limited number available at that rate, then the fares increase later. Walk-up prices are the same as for regular Greyhound buses, at $79 one-way to Richmond, for example, Greyhound marketing director Kim Plaskett said.

The number of $1 fares available each day varies, and the company doesn't disclose how many are available and on what days, "to prevent people from buying them all up and reselling them like a scalper," Plaskett said.

She called the express service, with private waiting areas in the terminal and guaranteed seats on the bus, a "stress-free, relaxing way to travel."

The new Atlanta routes are part of a broader expansion of Greyhound's express service, which first launched late last year in the Midwest with a hub in Chicago and has since expanded to the Northeast. Atlanta ranks ninth in passengers for Greyhound, which goes to about 2,300 destinations in the United States.

The express routes will leave from Greyhound's downtown Atlanta terminal and will use the company's new 50-seat buses with free Wi-Fi, power outlets and more legroom.

The young travelers Greyhound is targeting are "usually wired; they're web-savvy," Plaskett said. One of the attractions of the new service: "Atlanta is a huge college town," she said.

The arrival of fancier bus service in Atlanta comes after the launch of newfangled lines in the Northeast and Midwest, including BoltBus and Megabus. Those lines also offer some $1 fares, free Wi-Fi and plug-ins.

The upscale buses in the Northeast in many cases take people on short trips between major cities, but in the Southeast the route network is a little different.

The Greyhound express trip from Atlanta to Richmond will take 10 hours and 38 minutes. It includes stops in Charlotte and Raleigh, in part to switch drivers to comply with regulations limiting how long drivers can work. Drivers can only be on duty 15 hours a day, with 10 hours driving, Plaskett said.

To go from Atlanta to Washington will take 13 hours and 49 minutes, including a transfer in Richmond. Atlanta to D.C. walk-up fares are $85 one-way.

Travelers also can connect through Richmond to Baltimore and Philadelphia. And the company is exploring additional markets out of Atlanta.

Greyhound isn't the only bus line seeking to broaden its customer base with service in Atlanta.

RedCoach, a new luxury bus line concentrated in Florida, launched service in Atlanta about a year ago with routes to Tifton and on to a number of cities in Florida, including Orlando and Miami.

In Atlanta, RedCoach stops at the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Buckhead, and the company is planning to open a stop at Georgia State University, a spokeswoman said. Its fares to Tifton start at $40 one-way and go up for the longer routes to Florida.

RedCoach also offers Wi-Fi and power outlets, and touts that its buses have only 27 seats, offering more room per passenger.