High-end bus service adding Austin-Houston route

Next time you head to Houston, let someone else do the driving.

Vonlane, the high-end motorcoach service that got its start about 18 months ago, will begin service between Austin and downtown Houston on Jan. 17, founder Alex Danza said.

The addition of three new motorcoaches, giving the company six total, made the expansion possible. The specially built motorcoaches have just 16 seats, compared to 56 on most buses.

On-board features satellite TV, XM radio, electric outlets at each seat and WiFi, enabling passengers to stay connected during their trips.

Vonlane already offers service between Austin and Dallas.

Tickets are typically around $100. That’s more than Greyhound or Megabus charge, but less than the cost of airfare.

“Austin to Houston has been a highly requested route for many months, especially from the Austin folks,” Danza said.

Vonlane’s Austin service originates at the Hyatt Regency Austin hotel, 208 Barton Springs Road. In downtown Houston, it will operate from a spot near Dallas and Louisiana streets, near the Hyatt Regency Houston hotel.

When service gets up to full speed on Feb. 1, Danza said there will be four Austin-Houston departures on weekdays, one on Saturday and two on Sunday.

Next up, Vonlane hopes to add service between Houston and San Antonio, Danza said. That could be followed by the company’s first out-of-state route.

“We’re cautiously looking at a route from Dallas to Oklahoma City. That’s one possibility,” he said. “There are also some other very interesting cities we’re looking at — some triangles that are underserved by the airlines.”

Vonlane’s customers are approximately 60 percent business travelers, Danza said, with leisure travelers making up the other 40 percent.

“The curve is up and to the right every month. We’re seeing our plans come to fruition,” Danza said. “These are people who want ease of use and a stress-free experience. They like our easy boarding process and the fact that our attendant is taking care of just 16 passengers instead of a hundred, like you’d see on a plane.”

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