NEW YORK – With trains becoming the ‘airlines’ of Europe, guest writer Luca Zocche reviews ‘The Jet’ – a premium coach service which offers an alternative to short haul air travel.
The Jet’s Story
“The Jet is the brainchild of our founder Chad Scharborough” said Rob Thorpe, COO at The Jet.
The founder was an advertising executive who spent his 20’s and 30’s traveling up between D.C and New York, where he was from and D.C where he was working. He traveled so much but he never found a great solution.
You pay too much to fly. The shuttle is not great.
The Amtrak is pricey, bumpy and not great service or the Acela he never fell in love with. It’s overpriced and it’s not great quality.
Chad wanted to do it better. He pledged if he ever had the money he would put his money where his mouth is and he would try to reinvent the travel experience. His stumbling block was the seat of all of the things.
You can take a bus and you can create an amazing bathroom and have an amazing guest experience, you can really put this customer service wrap on it. Good food and beverage but it’s a bus so there is only a certain level of comfort you can get.
He discovered a few years ago that Bose audio had developed a motion-canceling seat for truckers based on the same technology that is in your noise-canceling headphones.
So to cut a long story short, Chad started to work with a bus seat manufacturer in Pennsylvania and said, “Hey, can you put a passenger seat on top of this because it’s awesome,” and he went through about two years of prototyping and product development with them and brought that to market.
Luckily we’re the first people to have access to it in the world.
Without further ado we give you the experience of taking The Jet bus between New York and Washington D.C. which competes with both other forms of ground transportation and also the airlines because it’s a nicer way to travel, costs way less, and gives you back more productive time.
As I was on my way to The Jet’s Hudson Yards pickup point, I was running late and was thinking I wouldn’t make it in time for departure.
Luckily Kevin, the onboard attendant sent me an SMS asking when I would be there which I thought at the time was quite impressive.
Upon arriving Rob Thorpe COO was onboard checking up on passengers and was also helping some investors do their due diligence on funding the company for further routes across the Northeast corridor.
Rob Thorpe welcoming passengers aboard.
Today I was sitting in seat 1A as the bus is in a 2-1 configuration.
Sitting down Kevin welcomed me aboard, gave me an overview of what was on today’s menu and how to recline my seat.
The full recline was quite comfortable. The biggest differentiation was the motion cancelling technology which Rob spoke about.
Such a technology enabled me to sleep 1 hour without even feeling that you’re on a bus as the seat moves with the movement of the bus (thanks to its sensors sensors that are reading the vibrations in the road 10,000 times a second and moving the seat to counter them).
Seat seen in full recline position.
Power outlet next to seat.
As we left on time Kevin started his service asking each passenger individually if they would like something to eat.
Following the drink service as we left the Holland tunnel, Kevin came around asking what snacks we would like.
View of Manhattan as we leave the Holland Tunnel
View from seat 1A.
Different options were available for those with dietary restrictions.
As we passed Newark Kevin passed by again asking if we would like any alcoholic beverages. A choice of 3 beers and 3 wines (White, Rose & Red) were available.
The Jet Uses Illy as its coffee provider. In the future the company wishes to also offer sandwiches and heated wraps which is why there is still so much space available in the buses kitchen.
I was very much impressed by the bathroom as it displays the company’s strive for luxury and is probably the nicest bus bathroom I’ve ever seen. Any other bus company such as Greyhound or even Napaway doesn’t meet the following standards.
A view of the cabin.
Future plans & Expansion
“For a start-up with 4 buses we have grown up around the leisure traveler” said Rob. “We’ll go back to 19 seats in the new year as the buses were originally designed to be 19 seats but were kept at 14 seats due to COVID.”
“We’re now 6 days a week. We don’t run Tuesday’s but hope to change that in the Spring and go to 7 days a week. We get a good portion of business travelers as well. Not as many as we hope to in the future when we are 7 days a week and increase the number of daily departures.”
“We try to run the bus as a quiet carriage on a train. That said, from the moment you arrive at that bus, and you arrive 30 minutes before departure, its productive time. Business travelers are realizing the benefits.”
“If you’re a lawyer, consultant, banker, you’re billing clients, getting on with work there is no lost time such as I had yesterday in a train station where I show a ticket, etcetera.”
“Next year is all about consolidation around D.C & New York. We’ll add a couple of more buses in the Spring and that allows us to go from 24 departures, 6 days a week, 2 departures a day to 56 departures a week, 7 days a week, 4 departures a day.”
“Within that schedule there are some other pickup points we’re looking at in New York and D.C end so that we aren’t necessarily tied to the metro center and where we are in New York at Hudson Yards.”
“From 2024 you’ll see us add another 14 to 20 buses and then you see us go to obviously pick up points within the northeast corridor such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, and others.”
The jetsetter scheme (loyalty program), we’re trying to roll that out in the new year. There are some tech developments that need to happen for that to take place seamlessly. When we roll it out we will be able to reward past travelers.
“In the short-term we’re rolling out a premium menu in the next few weeks. It’s still going to be at the snack end but a more premium line of snacks and drinks.”
“We’ve had short discussions on how we might develop the product whether it’s themed trips or for instance we have a no pet policy or no children under 6 years of age which we think it’s right for the market and whether at some point we try to integrate those niches into certain schedules”
Ultimately The Jet is a true success and is a great and superior alternative to flying as for the same price or even cheaper you have a much more peaceful and enjoyable journey.
Airlines will have to keep a close eye on The Jet as it may become a key competitor as train companies have become to airlines in Europe.
“Premiumization of buses and other forms of transport is going to be something very interesting in the next couple of years which will compete against airlines in short haul, such as the New York-Washington leg” said Rob.