That “new car” smell was in the air Monday morning aboard the first bus departing on Concord Coach Lines’ new route, direct to New York City.

The bus company announced Oct. 8 that it would offer nonstop service to the city after hearing from travelers and deciding there was plenty of demand. Until now, getting to the city without driving required a costly plane ticket plus transportation from the airport to the city, or a train or bus ride by way of Boston. That all changed Monday when the first bus rolled out of the Portland Transportation Center just after sunrise at 6:30 a.m.

The bus, which was about two-thirds full with 20 passengers, smelled new but was purchased last spring and has been used on other routes, according to Dana Knapp, Maine division manager for Concord Coach Lines, who was on board before departure, snapping photos and passing out gift bags that included a key chain flashlight, sticky notes and a first-aid kit.

Bus driver Roger Dubay welcomed riders aboard and with that, it was destination Manhattan.

Several passengers said they were excited that the bus route started just when they needed it.

Anne Belden, 59, of Cape Elizabeth was headed to a fundraiser in the city. If not for the bus, she said, she wouldn’t have made the trip.


The bus is easy, she said, and she could do some work on the six-hour journey.

“This makes it so doable,” she said.

Once on board, Belden had nothing but praise, noting the luxury of the executive design. “It’s very nice and it’s great to have bigger seats,” she said.

Caroline Jova, 28, of Portland was on her way to JFK airport, because the savings on her flight to Spain was significant versus flying out of Boston.

“I heard the news that this bus was starting on the day of my trip,” she said. “It’s much less hassle, with no driving involved.”

Plus, Jova said, “it’s snazzy and comfortable.”


The bus has one row with two seats and one of single seats. All seats are equipped with power outlets, fold-down tray tables, foot rests and head rests. There are complimentary headphones in every cup holder. Six screens showed movies nonstop, beginning with the original “Ghostbusters.”

The bathroom was clean and of standard-issue bus description; you’re glad it is there when you need it. At the back, a counter area offered an impressive array of free snacks and beverages, including coffee, juice, water, cookies, fruit, granola bars and yogurt.

Ambient noise on the bus was at a tolerable level as it only came from the bus itself and barely a word was spoken among passengers during the trip.

After hitting heavy traffic at the city limits, the bus arrived on East 42nd St. about 12:40 p.m., 25 minutes later than its scheduled arrival time.

The $49 one-way/$98 round-trip introductory rate will run through Feb. 1, when the rates go up to $79 one-way and $158 round-trip. For now, only one round-trip is scheduled per day, seven days a week. The return bus leaves New York at 2 p.m. and is scheduled to arrive in Portland at 8 p.m.

Concord Coach Lines Marketing Coordinator Melissa Miller said the company likely will add additional departure times. “We have been overwhelmed by the positive responses to the new service, and our intent is to add more trips in the first quarter of 2016,” she said.


That’ll please customers like Doug Malcolm, 62, of Portland. He was on his way Monday to help his son with some work in Brooklyn.

“I would like to be able to take this regularly,” he said.

Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:

Twitter: Aimsel

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