Bolt Bus, the extremely popular intercity bus service that started up on the East Coast (NYC) in 2008 began operating in the Pacific Northwest a little over a year ago. The Seattle to Portland route kicked off May 17, 2012 and the Seattle to Vancouver route May 21. Bolt Bus GM David Hall was kind enough to answer a few questions about their first year of operation out here. A pleasure to talk to, below is the edited (for length) interview, here is the full transcript.
How did the PNW opening compare to other expansions? Any unique challenges or surprises?
No real surprises or challenges. We are well ahead of our projections (30%!) for passengers and the growth now that we are year over year continues to be very good.
Speaking of the PNW, any progress in getting bike racks on the buses?
Not really making much progress on this front. To do this we’d need all three of the governing jurisdictions in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia to agree to various waivers. I’ve also not heard of any issues or complaints on lack of bike space. We plan to continue to work on getting the waivers but it is not a high priority item.
How has ridership been the last year? Any plans to add trips?
Ridership has been great well ahead of our projections, especially on the Portland to Seattle city pair. We are looking at adding schedules especially to the busier days of the week.
What about adding new routes?
We are looking at expansion but have not finalized any expansion plans at this point. We do plan to make some announcements in the fall. We are also looking at expanding into new regions in the near future.
Where do you think your customers are coming from?
The car is the dominant mode in intercity trips of these distances. We hope our service converts a small percentage out of the personal car to our service. I also think the service with it’s convenience, ease of use and relatively low prices creates trips. Someone will take that day trip to Seattle to see friends that might have been cost prohibitive before BoltBus.
I look forward to learning more about their expansion later this year. Bolt Bus has been a vast improvement over existing intercity bus travel in this region. I’ve been able to convince people who would normally refuse to get on a bus to try it out and every single one of them has come away a huge fan.