Texas already has Megabus and Vonlane, and now we'll be the first to get a brand-new commuter bus route from a technology startup called Shofur.
Beginning July 14, Shofur will offer bus service from Dallas to Houston. Assuming all goes well, that route will be followed by service to and from other Texas cities, including Austin, Waco, and San Antonio.
The buses offer amenities such as reclining seats, Wi-Fi, power outlets, and the option to select your seat just as you would choose your seat on an airplane.
Shofur, or "chauffeur" for people who can't spell so good, is designed primarily as an alternative to airfare and trains for "super commuters" who live in one metropolitan area but work in another.
As proof that a market exists, the company cites a study by Mitchell Moss, director of the Rudin Center for Transportation at NYU, who found that Texas cities, including Dallas, Houston, and Austin, have a growing population of super commuters, with the number from Dallas to Houston increasing 218 percent from 2002 to 2009, to 51,900 people.
The Dallas-to-Houston route represents the first scheduled service for Shofur, which previously specialized in charter bus service only.
The company plans to take an Uber-like approach to the motor-coach industry. "We’ve developed a mobile app allowing customers to select their seat, track their bus in real-time, and view the location of their stop," says CEO Amir Harris in a release. "We are excited to launch this service in Texas and then grow throughout the United States."
Riders can book bus tickets and charter bus reservations on the website and via a mobile app or go old-school by calling 1-800-436-8710. A one-way ticket from Dallas to Houston on July 20 leaving at 4 pm costs $29.23; if you want to leave at 10:45 am, the ticket is $57.57. The service seems most similar to Vonlane, the luxury bus company that operates four routes per day from Dallas Love Field to Houston for $99-$109.
Shofur started out as a website to book charter buses, and it claims to have more than 5,000 coach buses, with more than 400 bus companies in over 200 locations. The company serves as a platform, aggregating mom-and-pop bus companies. It has provided buses to airlines when their planes cannot fly, and it has supplied transportation for big sporting events like NCAA championships, wedding parties, and large conventions — anyone who needs a bunch of buses in a pinch.