Vonlane, a luxury motor coach company that currently shuttles businesspeople between Dallas and Austin, is adding a new route to Houston beginning April 20. Founder and president Alex Danza says the new service is in response to hundreds of customers asking for an Interstate 45 option since the company launched last May.
“We’ve been hearing ‘please add Houston’ from the Dallas folks, so that’s where we’re going next,” Danza says. “We believe there will be a lot of riders for that route.”
Vonlane will run its luxury buses from Dallas to Houston at 6 am and 2 pm, and Houston to Dallas at 10 am and 6 pm, giving travelers total flexibility for day trips between the two cities.
“A Dallas person could go out on the 6 am and be in Houston by 9 or 9:30,” Danza says. “They get back on at 6 pm, and they’re home that night. They can get the full day of work in, and they are in a comfortable, spacious work environment where they can work on the way home to Dallas if they’re not done right at 6. Or they can recline, have a meal and watch ESPN.”
The Dallas port will continue to be the DoubleTree hotel across from Love Field, while the Houston route will begin and end at the Sheraton North Houston at George Bush Intercontinental. Danza says there are plans to increase routes and frequency as they add the custom-made coaches to the fleet, but it takes time to create a 16-person coach with high-end amenities such as wood floors, built-in Wi-Fi and satellite TV, and a conference room.
“We buy an empty shell with an engine and a transmission,” Danza says. “We take that empty shell to a converter — he makes all the NASCAR drivers’ motor homes — and there’s another six months for the interior, wood floors and seats. The hurdle is that it takes time, but as we bring more coaches online, we can add more to the Houston route and make it more robust.”
Danza adds that he hopes for Vonlane to have an Austin-Houston route set up by the end of 2015. The Dallas-Houston route will have a discounted $69 fare for one-way tickets from the April 20 launch through May 31.