C&J to add non-stop service to NYC

By Thomas Gounley
On December 10, 2010

  • C&J buses, like the one above, will be stopping in Durham everyday starting on Feb. 14 to take travelers to the New York City. The bus company announced Wednesday that one-way tickets will be $75. Thomas Gounley/Staff

C&J Lines announced Wednesday that the bus company will offer non-stop, seven-day service from Durham and Portsmouth to New York City, starting on Feb. 14. It's the latest expansion from the Durham area for the regional bus service, which added direct service between Durham and Boston in September 2009.

Although schedules have not been finalized, the company expects to have a bus leaving Durham at 6:30 a.m. Monday through Friday. The bus will pick up additional riders in Portsmouth at 7 a.m., and drop off passengers at the New York City Post Authority Bus Terminal by noon. The terminal is located in the center of Manhattan, one block from Times Square. On weekends, the bus will leave the Seacoast region in the morning and arrive in New York City in the afternoon.

"We've been working on this project for over a year," C&J President Jim Jalbert said in an interview Wednesday evening.

One-way fares will be $75, placing the company mid-pack price-wise compared to other methods of getting from Durham to New York City.

"When you compare us to air shuttles and Amtrak, we're highly competitive," Jalbert said. "When you compare us to the discount buses, we're not as competitive."

However, the bus service will be the first alternative that doesn't require a transfer.

"You're going to be able to go from Durham to New York City without changing your mode of transportation," Jalbert said.

Jalbert also cited the various amenities that will be offered as part of the "executive class coach service." The 30-passenger motor coaches will feature leather seating, power outlets at each seat, free wi-fi, a full-length movie and a galley in the rear of the coach with complimentary refreshments. Newspapers, headsets, pillows and blankets will also be available.

"We thought there was an opportunity to provide a different type of service," Jalbert said.

Jalbert, who noted that the company has worked very closely with UNH, believes the arrangement will benefit the university as well as the region, from transporting visiting professors to taking students home for break.

"There are a lot of students who attend UNH from New York and the mid-Atlantic," he said.

UNH Director of Admissions Robert McGann said that over 700 undergraduate students come from the mid-Atlantic region, which is 5.75 percent of the student body. That figure could increase in coming years.

"We are spending more time and resources looking to increase enrollment of students from this region," he said.

In a press release, UNH President Mark Huddleston described the service as a potential recruiting tool.

"The recent addition of direct bus service from Durham to Boston on the weekends has proven very popular with our campus community, and I'm confident the added service to New York City will be another hit," he said. "I imagine it will also add to UNH's appeal for prospective students from the Mid-Atlantic States."

Wednesday's announcement is the second time Durham bus services have been shaken up this month. On Dec. 3, C&J discontinued its round-trip supplemental commuter bus service from the Exeter, Dover and Durham passenger rail stations to Boston, following expiration of supplemental federal funds to support the operation.

According to Seacoastonline.com, in a Nov. 5 letter to Department of Transportation Commissioner George Campbell, Jalbert wrote that the service would require an annualized subsidy of $40,000 to continue.

"This decision has been made only after our company has exhausted every possible option for the continuance of service," he wrote.

However, effective Dec. 6, Portsmouth-based Falcon Bus Lines is now offering the commuter service and an additional northbound bus from Boston in the morning. Representatives from the bus company did not respond to interview requests.

Durham Town Administrator Todd Selig said he was pleased to see both new services.

"The town has, for many years, worked to enhance mass transit opportunities for residents and students," he said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

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