Bridj Added Routes to Their Boston Market
A “luxury bus” operation that’s said its services provide a better commute than the MBTA has added additional routes to carry morning riders through Boston, dropping them off in areas like Fort Point and Back Bay. Now they just need the seal of approval from elected officials.
Although they don’t technically have to have it, Bridj filed a petition with the City Council on June 17 for a license to operate luxury buses through certain streets in Boston.
Matthew George, Bridj’s CEO, said the filing is more of a formality since the way they’re now operating doesn’t infringe on how the city’s outdated laws are currently written. He said Birdj already launched the new stops, on June 16, but after talking with City Council members Bridj was asked to file for the license so that the city could “cover their bases,” he said. “Because it’s such a grey area, they wanted us to go through the formal process,” said George. “I don’t think they want to make the service come to an end, nor do they want to pick a fight. We have been understanding and flexible about everything, and they have been understanding and flexible about everything.”
Describing itself as a “jitney” service—a low-cost alternative to other means of transportation—Bridj is asking city officials to consider its application to bring services to select routes that would let riders out in Fort Point, and outside of the Boston Public Library.
Bridj already has routes that travel from Brookline to Kendall Square and Downtown Boston.
The terminals indicated on the submission form up for consideration by the City Council include drop-off points at 640 Boylston Street, 347 Congress Street, and 100 Federal Street. The routes begin in Brookline’s Coolidge Corner, where Bridj is currently running their beta operations.
According to the document, rides will cost anywhere from $1.50 to $10, depending on the trip, but those details still need to be ironed out. Bridj’s parent company, GroupZoom, also indicated on the filing that they want to add anywhere from three to 15 vehicles, but that, too, was a vague detail that still needs to be determined by the vendors operating the vehicles. Bridj is applying to operate vehicles that can hold anywhere from 15 to 54 passengers during the trips, and has interest in using various coaches, luxury buses, and even a “Mercedes mini.”
Earlier this month, Boston put Bridj’s claims to the test to find out if their services were actually faster than a trip on the underground transit lines. While their ride rivaled the MBTA’s by roughly 10 minutes, the comparison was difficult based on the fact that the T makes frequent stops, whereas Bridj is a direct route. The benefits of Bridj, however, were the amenities the service offers. That, and the lack of congested train cars and service delays that often plague commuters relying on public transit.
Boston rode to work with George during that trip, who said at the time that come July they would start charging for rides, and shipping people to Copley Square and the Seaport District, near Fort Point.
“That way we really have Coolidge Corner covered in terms of at least the big destinations,” he said. “When we look at how we introduce service, we take anywhere from 15 to 19 different data streams, analyze that neighborhood. We are not looking at signs ups and saying ‘where do people want to go?,’ we are looking at everything from census data to social media data. When we go into a new market we really understand where people are traveling to. We have solid orders of magnitude. Then we introduce routes based on that. We are going to be able to do that pretty quickly, and in July the goal is to introduce a new origin point about every week. And there’s about 40 routes we are planning on introducing.”
George also said they were adding some smaller vehicles—33 to 35 passenger buses—some of which will feature leather seats with televisions attached to the back.
According to the company’s Twitter page, it looks as though some people already got to test out their newer luxury vehicles:
— Bridj (@Bridj) June 23, 2014