After a four-month absence, daily bus service between Lancaster and New York City has resumed, thanks to new providers.
A partnership of Lancaster-based Executive Coach and OurBus, based in New York City, restored service July 1. One-way fares are as low as $10.
“For a couple months, Lancaster was the largest metropolitan area in the country without any intercity bus service...,” said Axel Hellman, OurBus co-founder.
“We can tell there definitely was a need for something that’s below the pricepoint of Amtrak and dependable,” he said Thursday.
In the early going, OurBus is offering one run daily Monday through Saturday and two Sunday. Runs will be added as ridership grows.
The idea for the new service originated in March, when OurBus saw financially ailing Bieber Transportation drop service between New York City and Lancaster/York, according to Hellman.
So OurBus reached out to Executive Coach about jointly providing a route between New York City and York, Lancaster, Malvern, King of Prussia and Fort Washington.
Ridership so far has been modest. About five to 10 Lancaster passengers are among the 20 to 30 total passengers on a typical run.
“It’s a small start, but it’s a first step,” said Hellman.
Dale McMichael, president of Executive Coach, called the response “pretty good” for the start of a new route.
Bob Bini, director for transportation planning at the Lancaster County Planning Commission, welcomed the return of bus service to New York City.
“It’s important to have a broad range of services to meet the needs of the community,” he said.
Under the partnership, Executive Coach provides a 56-passenger coach and driver. It splits revenue from fares with OurBus, which handles the schedule management, ticketing and marketing.
Hellman declined to specify the revenue split.
Partnering with local charter bus companies is the business model that OurBus has used since its inception in 2016. It now serves 25 to 30 cities, said Hellman.
As it markets the new service, OurBus underscores its amenities, reliability and price.
The buses have reclining seats, free wi-fi, recharging ports, bathrooms and free water bottles. Its fares are cheaper than Amtrak; there’s no charge for rescheduling.
The standard OurBus fare is $24 one-way. Booking early, though, can cut the fare to $10.
Locally, OurBus travels from the Hotel Lancaster, Queen and Chestnut streets. It arrives in New York City on Park Avenue South between 26th and 27th. Departures leave New York City from Madison Avenue between 26th and 27th streets.
Monday through Saturday, OurBus leaves Lancaster at 6:45 a.m. and arrives in New York City at 10:15 a.m. It leaves New York City at 3:20 p.m. and arrives in Lancaster at 7:50 p.m.
On Sundays, OurBus leaves Lancaster at 8:45 a.m. (arriving in New York City at 12:30 p.m.) and at 1:41 p.m. (arriving at 5:15 p.m.). Returning buses leave New York City at 2:20 p.m. (arriving in Lancaster at 6:05 p.m.) and at 7:00 p.m. (arriving at 10:50 p.m.).
Like OurBus, Amtrak offers fares that vary widely, but are much steeper. One way fares to New York City range from $59 to $94, according to its website.
OurBus and city officials will formally launch the new Lancaster service at noon Tuesday with a ceremony in front of the Lancaster City Visitors Center on Penn Square.
For more information, visit https://www.ourbus.com/routes/lancaster-to-nyc.