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Live from BoltBus: Cool but no Riverdance

Posted by guest  April 24, 2008 10:08 AM

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Yes, that's right, we snagged seat Numero Uno on the Hub’s inaugural departure for just $1.
The much-ballyhooed BoltBus started its 12 daily trips today between Boston’s South Station and New York’s Penn Station. And we are here to see what the ruckus is all about – that is besides the stuff you already know like the promise of at least one seat for a buck and the free WiFi, which we’re using right now to blog.

boltbusnew.jpg
  Passengers wait at to board at South Station this morning.   (Mark Wilson/Globe Staff)

So what’s it like?
For starters when you arrive, you’d better remember which bus terminal BoltBus leaves from because it isn't listed on the station’s monitors -- at least it wasn't this morning. Competitors Fung Wah, Lucky Star, Peter Pan , and Greyhound were there though.
A Bolt spokeswoman said she was hoping station management would correct the omission quickly.

Boarding was amazingly orderly and cool. Bolt says one of its big selling points is they it guarantees you'll get on the departing bus you bought a ticket for because the company won’t sell oversell seats, unlike its competitors. That means you don’t have to arrive at the station an hour early during popular travel periods and stampede when the bus door swings open.
BoltBus asks passengers to show up at least 15 minutes early and it boards in batches based on when you bought seats, with early birds getting seated first. That’s how it worked this morning, and it was smooth. Still, some riders on today’s 7:30 am bus showed up 30 minutes early and queued up at Gate 21. Creatures of habit, perhaps.
Bolt lived up to its hype until the bus pulled away from the curb. Sure, the clean, new motorcoach sported 3.5 inches of extra legroom and departed on time. But Bolt told us the driver would tickle our funny bones. Bolt had whittled a pool of more than 1,000 applicants for the 50 driver positions largely by screening for the “Southwest Airlines” sensibility – people who easily laugh, smile and crack jokes. One key interview question was what would you say to passengers when it’s time for the bus to depart? Bolt said it hired “the ones who got up and danced a little jig and had fun.”
Our driver was professional and courteous, but fun-loving? I don't think so. And he definitely didn’t Riverdance or add levity to the early morning ride.
Oh well. That’s what the free WiFi is for.
Posted by Nicole C. Wong, Globe Staff

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