New NJ bus app helps shave hour off Manhattan commute
He stood at his bus stop with a pen and a pad asking fellow commuters if they'd be interested in a direct ride to their New York City destinations — rather than making multiple stops before finally arriving at the Port Authority just to grab a cab or subway.
Almost immediately, Princeton resident Mike Virdi knew he had a good idea brewing.
In May he helped launch OurBus, giving New Jersey commuters a new option to get to and from NYC. It's like Uber, only these rides come on a luxury coach bus, equipped with wireless internet access, charging stations and restrooms.
Here's how it works: People sign up for the service, indicating the ZIP code in which they live and the ZIP code where they work. Once enough people in one area are registered, OurBus partners with charter bus companies and gives them a Monday-through-Friday route. And riders can be within walking distance of both the bus stop and their place of employment.
While it's not as simple as pressing a button and having a bus show up at your doorstep, OurBus does aim to eliminate many of the daily commuter annoyances, from waking up early to paying a steep ticket price.
Perhaps the biggest draw is the end of multiple stops. Once you're assigned to a route, there's only one stop before New York: yours.
"You have to be a frustrated commuter like myself to understand the pain that commuters go through," Virdi said. "We developed the technology that allows us to find people that live and work near each other and put them on the same direct transport."
On its initial run, the service is handling registered users in the Kendall Park area of South Brunswick, traveling to Times Square, Bryant Park, Grand Central Station and Madison Park. There's a return trip in the evening.
"We save about 30 minutes in the morning, 30 minutes in the evening, and we're able to do it at at least 30 to 40 percent below public transport fares," Virdi said.
OurBus has about 600 people signed up in five ZIP codes. About 37 routes have been researched and are "ready to go," according to Virdi. Monroe and the Livingston-West Orange Area could be next in line for direct routes.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at email@example.com.