Passengers Defend Megabus on First Day of Port Authority Pickup

By Ben Fractenberg on February 15, 2012 4:29pm 

Andre Christie, 28, and Mariama Kabba, 30, took Megabus to Philadelphia from Port Authority on Feb. 15, 2012.
Andre Christie, 28, and Mariama Kabba, 30, took Megabus to Philadelphia from Port Authority on Feb. 15, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

MIDTOWN — Megabus passengers defended the beleaguered bus line Wednesday — a day after a judge shot down rival companies' attempts to keep the line away from the Port Authority, where they are allowed to pick up riders for free.

Fans of the discount bus company, which moved its hub to West 41st St. between Eighth and Ninth avenues — the street straddled by two of the Port Authority's buildings — said rival bus carriers operating within the terminal had nothing to fear from Megabus.

"If they're paying [to be in Port Authority] and they have a problem they can get out on the street," said Andre Christie, 28, who was taking a bus to Philadelphia Wednesday. "It's all about competition."

Greyhound, Peter Pan, and Adirondack bus lines sued the New York City Department of Transportation on Tuesday after the city directed Megabus to set up shop for free at West 41st Street.

The companies — which pay approximately $10 million in combined costs to operate inside the Port Authority — said in their lawsuit that the city was breaking its own rules and creating a noncompetitive environment.

But customers said they turned their back on the official Port Authority companies long before the move.

Christie, who takes Megabus to various locations including Washington D.C. and Philadelphia about once a month, said he used to take Greyhound, but changed to Megabus after a friend told him about the line's amenities.

"Megabus has free wifi and an upstairs," Christie said, referring to Megabus' double-decker second tier. Other bus lines, including Greyhound and BoltBus also offer wifi, according to their websites.

No matter the location of pickup, Christie and others said they were loyal to Megabus because of the rock-bottom prices.

Christie said he used to pay $30 one-way to Philadelphia on Greyhound and has paid as little as $9 on Megabus.

He added that while he thought the bus line shared in the advantage of location by being allowed to operate at Port Authority, buses inside still enjoyed certain advantages.

"The only downfall is waiting here in the cold," Christie said. "If I can pay a $1 and have to stand in the cold, I'll do it."

Another passenger said she takes Megabus from Rochester to New York City because of the price.

"Round trip on Greyhound is $136. This is $64 round trip," said the 50-year-old woman, who would only give her first name, Linda. "We come every month so we're looking for the cheapest way."

The bus companies who brought the suit argued that Megabus is "in violation of lawful procedures that mandate that all city agencies follow open and transparent procedures in awarding private parties exclusive rights to city-owned property."

New York State Supreme Court Judge Joan Lobis ruled Tuesday that she would not grant a temporary restraining order barring Megabus from moving to the Port Authority on Wednesday.

The coalition has said it will try again for an injunction against the new Megabus stop at a hearing before Justice Donna Mills on Friday.

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