While bus travel continues to attract a new generation of travelers, until recently, booking an intercity motorcoach trip was a difficult proposition. A fragmented, low-tech marketplace meant that travelers had to visit multiple sites to locate the cheapest fares and find route connections. But with Wanderu, co-founder Polina Raygorodskaya said bus and train schedules are efficiently aggregated – helping to boost the “cool” factor of taking the bus even more. She spoke to Globe correspondent Cindy Atoji Keene about creating a kayak.com-type search engine for bus travel.
“In the last decade, the bus industry has experienced a true ‘disruption’ – it hasn’t been ‘business as usual’ for this age-old enterprise. Instead of being ‘my grandparents form of transportation,’ the value proposition for commuters, students, and budget-minded travelers is that the bus is convenient, cheap, last-minute travel – and it has wi-fi and power stations. But while many new bus riders are tech-savvy, most of the bus companies themselves – some of which have been around for a 100 years – are still just selling tickets at the counter. There is a huge disconnect here, one that my partner Igor and I stumbled upon a few years ago while trying to make a cross-country trip on the bus. We ended up stranded in a national forest in West Virginia, trying to somehow get to Indianapolis. We tried in vain to search online for ground options and ended up throwing up our hands and renting a car. I became obsessed with trying to solve this program and with building a stress-free travel booking site designed to get any traveler from Point A to Point B. Type in any address, city, or even point of interest – like the White House; your mother’s condo – and Wanderu will find the closest bus station as well as route multiple providers together, and integrate transit directions. We have partnered with the biggest bus lines, including Greyhound, Megabus, Peter Pan Bus, and others to build out their data – and now we have a mobile app in the works that I just tested myself on a recent bus ride.
I take the bus all the time between Boston and New York. I love the four hours of uninterrupted work time. The minute I get onto the bus, I plug in my computer and all the distractions disappear.”