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14.03.2014
Unlike the traditional Greyhound model, curbside intercity bus-service has become popular through services such as Megabus and Bolt Bus. According to a recent article from the Atlantic Cities, Chinatown bus service does run direct from New York City to Cincinnati. Services operated by Coach88 and Sky Horse Bus operate six days a week, and arrive in the morning after a 12-hour overnight trip.
Still curbside bus service continues to appeal to many people, including local resident Rob Naylor. These bus companies are filling the growing market of low-cost intercity travel alternatives brought on by rising airfare prices.
Additionally, implementation of a plan to consolidate these bus services under a single destination like the Riverfront Transit Center, first proposed last July by UrbanCincy, would greatly enhance the accessible population base for these services thus integrating the service into Cincinnati’s broader regional transportation system. I’ll be honest, I had absolutely no idea that there were two Chinatown bus services operating daily routes between Cincinnati and NYC. Maybe, if the city could get its act together and put together a proposal to consolidate all inter-city buses in the Riverfront Transit Center, they would locate there. Not to say that I don’t think it would be a good idea to get them into the Riverfront Transit Center. One other thing I find interesting about this is how little service is offered between NYC and Cleveland.
I was looking to book tickets to take the Megabus to Pittsburgh (then to Phila) in March, but it looks like (I’m just surmising) that Megabus is phasing out its service between Cinti and Pburgh? Essentially, the person I was talking to said that the driver of the bus had been driving for 13+ hours and couldn’t really stay awake anymore.
I recently took the Chinatown bus from NYC to Cincinnati and will say it was one of the worst bus trips I have ever taken. Comfort and convenience make this a good alternative to the train between Boston and New York City. These bus companies based their business plan on the Chinatown bus model developed by the Fung Wah buses in the late 1990’s. Megabus currently offers direct connections to Chicago and other Midwestern cities, including Columbus and Pittsburgh, but does not offer continuing service to New York City.
UrbanCincy investigated the claim and found that there are actually two Chinatown bus services that have established direct bus service from New York City to Cincinnati as well as Dayton and Columbus.


According to their websites, buses come equipped with comfortable recliner seating and restrooms.
It also serves as a missed opportunity for several state governments, including Ohio which could have capitalized on with expanded inter-city rail connections.
If you ever talk to Clevelands about regional dynamics, many will be quick to tell you how Cincinnati is more aligned with the South, and Cleveland with the Northeast…especially NYC.
I’m not sure I would have guessed that Cincinnati would be the top spot in Ohio and the Midwest, but I did think that Cleveland would have had more service. I believe the only way to get to Pittsburgh from CIncinnati via Megabus is through Chicago which just isn’t practical. Or perhaps they are moving those buses to accomodate for the Atlanta hub that just opened recently.
It’s kind of funny this article came up, because I heard of this service the day before this article was released. Another passenger (who drives 18-wheelers) essentially forced the driver to let him take the wheel the remainder of the way to NYC until just before entering the city. I took both bus lines two weeks ago, Sky Horse on the way there and Coach 88 on the way back. In comparison, I have taken the Fung Wah from Boston to NYC then back again and have no complaints like wheels falling off or catching fire as many believe. With the increasing cost of air travel and the declining flight activity at shrinking airport markets like CVG, many people are turning to low cost alternatives provided by inter-city buses.
Klein and Andrew Zitcer conduct several focus groups to gauge rider experience on Chinatown buses. It’s unfortunate, because I have family in Pittsburgh and it was a gateway to the East Coast as Pittsburgh is a major hub for Megabus. After the bus driver threatened to fight a passenger who didn’t have a ticket, and then turned off our AC so we subsequently turned on said passenger until he left the bus, the ride was FAST (closer to 10 hours) and uneventful.
My impression was that this location has to do with ease of access to 75N and keeping the trip to Dayton a little shorter. These locations are near city bus service provided by SORTA, however, both the #20 and #78 routes are located a half-mile to almost a mile near the drop off locations.


Once we got on the road we drove over to Brooklyn to drop some random things off and have a look at the engine.
I started to get annoyed when we drove back through Chinatown on our way through Manhattan heading back home an hour later. The man collecting tickets launches into a tirade, just cursing his competition and kind of everything around.
We stopped an hour and a half into the trip to fill up, which if anyone is wondering, it cost $600 to fill up one of those buses! We got off the highway and pulled into some strip mall parking lot to a waiting line of people. I happened to be up at 3:30 when again we made at most a 10 minute stop in West Virginia (I think) to switch drivers. We pull up at a cheap motel, our driver gets out, closes us all back in, bus is still running. He walks over to a door and raises his hand to knock, I swear his knuckles don’t even reach the door, it opens, no words are exchanged, this other guy shoots out, takes the drivers seat, throws her in gear and we are back on the road. Onward, one more short stop around 5:30 in the morning at a gas station, this is the only time passengers are allowed out. Now being the middle of the night, they decide to put on an awful action movie being played quite loud…it may have played twice. But these guys take their sweet time there and I watch the Sky Horse bus pull in, having caught us.
Two of our operators are gabbing upfront, one briefly smoking a cigarette in the bus, as the sweet efficient mechanism that is Sky Horse glides in and out before we can turn around. Once we hit Ohio, there were a series of stops where we would get off an exit, someone upfront would yell a name, no one would move, door closes, back onto the interstate we go…having accomplished nothing.
I would even say it is worth the extra $20.00 bucks they charge for the Friday night ride, it is $30 for all other days.



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