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New Bus Line to NYC Hopes to Compete with Mainstays--The Daily Pennsylvanian
2006-02-16
New bus line to NYC hopes to compete with mainstays

Competition emerges for Chinatown buses, at $5 more round-trip
By Vince Levy
February 16, 2006

Traveling on the cheap from Philadelphia to New York City has just become a little more upscale -- and a little less cheap.

A new bus line, the P2P Circulator, is planning to operate a fleet of low-cost buses between the two cities.

According to P2P President and Chief Executive Officer Wilson Cheng, his company's buses have nicer facilities and more convenient drop off and pick up points than other services -- but they will cost passengers $2.50 more per ride.

P2P will charge $25 per round-trip ticket. The Chinatown bus charges $20 per round-trip ticket, and Greyhound Lines charges $40.

But the P2P delivers its passengers to midtown Manhattan's Penn Station rather than Chinatown, as other low-cost buses do.

The buses are widely known as "Chinatown" buses for that reason. They connect the Chinatowns of New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington.

"We positioned ourself in the middle, providing more premium services with a better location," Cheng said.

The new bus departs for New York from 121 N. 11th St., 10 times daily on the hour.

The company also offers brand-new buses and online ticketing.

"It's faster, and you have more schedules leaving Philadelphia," said Jimmy Dong, Philadelphia station manager for Todays Bus, which owns both P2P and a traditional line of Chinatown buses.

The bus line plans to launch a 12-month marketing campaign, advertising in newspapers and Web sites in Philadelphia and New York.

"We're targeting the student markets [and] the new immigrants working in New York and commuting both ways," Cheng said.

He added that his bus line also hopes to serve New York City workers who have moved to Philadelphia to escape the rising cost of living in New York.

Cheng also said that there is a large market of commuters from Philadelphia to New York.

Officials plan to offer monthly passes on the P2P Circulator for those who must make the trip daily.

For frugal Penn students traveling to New York, the Chinatown buses have long been a popular option.

"It's really convenient for me, and it's really cheap. It's the best deal out there," said Wharton sophomore Eddie Yang, a native of New York State and regular passenger on Chinatown buses.

Although Yang said he's always "been very satisfied" with his experiences on the buses, some of his friends haven't been as fortunate.

One friend told Yang of a trip in which "the bus driver just went crazy on the highway, cutting through traffic like he was driving a sports car, but with a bus."

Yang added that the friend "never took the bus ever again."

Yang said he would be willing to ride the P2P "if they had safer drivers ... and maybe a cleaner bus. Yeah, I think it's worth the five bucks."