New bus service to connect Albany and NYC – Times Union

OurBus is adding bus service connecting Albany, NYC and points in the Hudson Valley, but can it compete with well-known Trailways, who has served the area for more than 90 years?
A new bus service connecting New York City to Albany and key points in the Hudson Valley, including New Paltz and Woodbury Commons Premium Outlets, launched late last month.
OurBus, a digital intercity travel company, doesn’t actually own its fleet of buses — it acts as a technology platform that creates a network of service by sourcing available independent charter buses that are often used by schools or churches.
“We have networked together all the small bus companies in the country to create a bus company that’s bigger than legacy bus companies,” said Numaan Akram, CEO of OurBus, which launched in 2016 with a route in New Jersey. “They love us for it, because we have unlocked the value of their underutilized asset.”
Akram compared the approach to people making money off of their spare bedroom or properties when they list them on short-term rental sites like Airbnb or Vrbo. “It’s unlocking that value,” he said.
OurBus is competing with Greyhound and Trailways for a slice of the bus ridership business in the Hudson Valley. Trailways of New York, a privately held transportation company, has serviced the region for more than 90 years, with routes between the city and western Hudson Valley towns, including New Paltz, Kingston and Phoenicia, and between NYC and Albany. Pre-pandemic, Trailways served one million passengers annually across its system.
“We’re really well known by our customers,” said Anne Noonan, vice president of marketing and traffic at Trailways. “For another competitor, whoever it is, to try and come into the market we’ve served so well for so long, they just don’t really have an opportunity to get a foothold in the market.”
Trailways, with a fleet of more than 100 vehicles, operates out of bus terminals in New Paltz, Kingston (as shown here) and Albany.
On the eastern side of the Hudson River, Amtrak also services Albany and New York — the cities are among Amtrak’s top “city pairs” by ridership, and in 2019, the Albany-Rensselaer station saw 806,960 boardings and disembarks. Metro-North Railroad, meanwhile, is currently averaging around 120,000 weekday riders — a healthy volume, although lower than pre-pandemic levels, with fewer people commuting. Metro-North only takes passengers as far north as Poughkeepsie.
Train service tends to be more expensive than buses. OurBus fares start at $19 for one way service between Albany and New York City, compared to $24 for Trailways, depending on how far in advance you book.
Greyhound bus rides between New York City and Albany were listed as $30 one-way Tuesday through Sunday this week.
“We’re able to be more efficient, more customer responsive, and often cheaper,” said Akram. “We think we can provide a better service than what’s there right now.”
Noonan said the company continues to monitor competitors’ pricing, and points to other variables that distinguish service.
“We offer a lot of amenities – and we offer terminals,” said Noonan. “In this part of the state, standing out in the rain and the snow in the winter isn’t preferred.”
Trailways, with a fleet of more than 100 vehicles, operates out of bus terminals in New Paltz, Kingston, and Albany. In New York City, it pulls into the Port Authority bus terminal.
OurBus said that it will add a stop at the Albany-Rensselear train station soon. In New York City, stops include West 53rd Street and 6th Avenue, West 51st Street and Broadway, and the George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal (Fort Washington and Broadway between 178th and 179th Streets).
Akram said OurBus is currently working with two charter bus companies who he said have in place safety protocols if a bus breaks down, such as sending a maintenance team or a new bus, having an existing trip pick up passengers;, or arranging alternate travel modes to complete the trip.
OurBus runs one to three buses daily between Thursday and Monday, with the greatest number of departures and returns on Friday and Sunday. Stops in Albany include University at Albany (at Collins Circle) and Crossgates Mall. Other stops along the route include Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in Orange County and New Paltz (at New York State Thruway Park and Ride – Exit 18).
The Trailways system runs seven days a week, with around 10 runs a day, aligned to commuters during the week and more frequently on the weekends for those going to the city or Hudson Valley for recreation purposes.
“It’s less than half of what we were operating pre-pandemic, but slowly, slowly, slowly as demand to and from New York City increases, we keep adding more service here and there,” said Noonan.
New, safer trailhead to Breakneck Ridge on the way
This color means “No Trespassing” in 15 states but not NY
Kingston hotel’s hold on Empire State Trail access
Happy hour hikes: beer and trail pairings in the Hudson Valley
Cases of rare tick-borne disease jump 81 percent
Cloey Callahan is a lifelong Hudson Valley resident who was born and raised in Brewster, lived in New Paltz for four years while she attended college, and now resides in Newburgh on Liberty Street. On a sunny day, she strolls through Newburgh enjoying the 19th-century architecture on her way to the Hudson River waterfront. You can reach her at [email protected] to say hi or with pitches.