The Big Red Bullet — a new Ithaca-to-New York City bus service promising to provide Campus-to-Campus speed at Short Line prices — launched Wednesday with its first four trips.
The first day of operation went relatively smooth, according to manager Bob Nicholas. While he said one bus experienced some initial issues, they have been resolved, and buses departing both New York and Ithaca arrived at the other location in under four hours.
Nicholas said the first two buses were only carrying 10 and four passengers respectively, but that he has confidence that business will pick up once word spreads.
“I think the low number of riders for the first few trips was the announcement of start service was due to the fact it was mid-week and the start-up notice was quite short, so it didn’t really give people a chance to make plans ahead of time,” he said.
The 14 passengers were able to ride free thanks to the bus service’s launch promotion. Big Red Bullet is giving away free tickets for its first five days of operation in order to establish itself.
Nicholas said he thinks Big Red Bullet will prove valuable for travelers who do not want to spend the five to six hours it takes to get to New York City on the Short Line, which usually stops at least four times, but cannot afford the $180 round trip tickets offered by the Cornell-run Campus-to-Campus line. Big Red Bullet is hoping to strike a happy medium by offering $110 round trip weekday and $130 weekend tickets, coming in a little over Short Line’s lowest fares, but saving riders as much as two hours.
“In simple terms, we’re providing nonstop service for about the same price as Short Line, which stops in three different places,” Nicholas said.
While Big Red Bullet buses may not boast Campus-to-Campus’s free snack selection, they are hoping to provide an enjoyable ride by offering free wifi and electrical outlets.
“Though I think Shortline used to have [outlets], I don’t think any of them work anymore,” Nicholas said.
Although Nicholas said the company may expand its fleet or add new destinations in the future, for now, it just wants to make a name for itself as the most efficient, affordable way to travel between New York City and Ithaca.
“We’re taking it one step at a time now,” Nicholas said. “We want to establish ourselves as a go-to service, that we have a great product, and I think we want to get people used to and enjoying it.”
Big Red Bullet buses have have pickup and drop-off locations on Green Street, outside Urban Outfitters, in Ithaca and on the corner of 40th Street and 6th Avenue in NYC.