Megabus has sharply reduced its service between Burlington and New York City in what the low-cost carrier says is a response to dwindling demand.
In accordance with the unannounced scaleback taking effect on January 8, Megabus will no longer make daily runs to and from Manhattan via Saratoga Springs, N.Y. That route will now operate northbound on Thursday and Sunday and southbound on Friday and Monday.
Travel to and from Manhattan through Saratoga Springs is supposed to take an hour less than the scheduled seven-hour journey between Burlington and New York City via Amherst, Mass., and Hartford, Conn. That longer route will continue to operate on a daily basis in both directions, although departure and arrival times have been changed. Megabus is also continuing a daily Burlington-Boston service, with twice-a-day options available on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Megabus spokesman Mike Alvich declined to provide specific figures for passenger loads for the Burlington-New York City service that runs through Saratoga Springs. He said “competitive reasons” prevent Megabus from disclosing those numbers.
Alvich did say the decline in customers on the Saratoga route is not a seasonal matter. Megabus “looked at the full year” in calculating the difference between revenues and expenses for that run, he noted.
“If we start to see additional business, we'll increase frequency between Burlington and New York,” Alvich added.
The cut in service has “absolutely nothing to do” with issues that have led Megabus to shift its Burlington stop twice in the past few months, Alvich said. The University of Vermont told Megabus in November that the carrier could no longer pick up or discharge passengers at locations on campus.
UVM said it acted out of concerns about passengers smuggling drugs to Burlington from New York City on Megabus. Police had arrested a few Megabus travelers on drug charges upon their arrival in Burlington during the past year.
Megabus currently uses a stop on University Place near the Royall Tyler Theatre. That location is not under UVM's control.
Photo courtesy of Megan James, who wrote a 2012 Seven Daysstory on riding the Megabus.