Friday, November 27, 2020

McGill students create bus co-op with stops at PSU

McGill University students have formed a nonprofit bus co-op in hopes of making travel to New York City more convenient and affordable for students. The co-op will make its very first trip today with a stop at Plattsburgh State at 4:30 p.m. at the Angell College Center. 

Due to weather concerns, the bus may arrive an hour late, according to the co-op’s Facebook page.  

The McGill Bus Co-Op offers one-way tickets to and from New York City for $35. The co-op charters a bus through Autocar Excellence, a Montreal transportation company that provides buses for tours, sports teams and other events..
Its route starts at McGill in Montreal with stops in PSU and Albany before reaching lower Manhattan. The bus returns Sunday night.  

Students interested can buy tickets and find more information at mustbus.ca. 

Freshman art student Alexandre Hinton alongside sophomore Alexis Zhou thought of starting the co-op last semester in their French class at McGill. 

Hinton is from New York City. After lamenting the cost and inconvenience of his travel options from home to Montreal, he and Zhou began planning the co-op.

“[We’re] a group of students who are fed up with the poor transportation network that exists in New York and Quebec,” Hinton said. 

So far, the co-op has been operating on volunteers and donations with hopes to get help from McGill and Concordia College to cover part of its expenses.

It has also entered in McGill’s Dobson Cup, a competition for startups with a first-place prize of $20,000. Runner-ups win $12,000 with third-place finishers receiving $8,000.  

Teams are judged on innovation, viability and growth potential. The Cup’s winners will be announced April 8.  

The McGill Bus Co-Op offers lower prices by following the FlixBus model in Europe. The co-op doesn’t own any bus stations ot busses and sells all tickets online through its website. Unlike Greyhound, which has its own stations, buses and employees that contribute to higher prices. 

Currently, a one-way ticket from Plattsburgh to New York City through Greyhound can cost $50 to $60. Holidays and other busy days can drive prices higher. A roundtrip ticket on the buses PSU offered for winter break cost students $105. 

The co-op decided to look into adding PSU as a stop after Hinton talked with a PSU student on an Amtrak train headed to New York City. 

“He was like, ‘Yeah it’s ridiculous. The public transit options out of Plattsburgh are nonexistent. It’s like a third world country,” Hinton recalled.

Hinton thought PSU was a natural stop for the bus as it’s already passes it on its route to New York City.    

Hinton said the $35 tickets are currently a promotional price. He expects prices to rise but remain lower than Greyhound prices. 

“Everything will be kept as low as we can without risking losing a lot of money,” Hinton said.

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