By Andrew Wroblewski
While the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) strike was successfully averted last week, one question still remains unanswered: Where can commuters safely put their coffee cups?
William Schoolman, CEO of 7Bus, has the answer to that question – and, oddly enough, it lies within a cup holder.
“Each of our coach buses are equipped with critical features like free WiFi, power outlets, extra leg room, plush leather seats and – if you’re a coffee drinker – we have special cup holders attached to every seat,” said Schoolman of his luxury Long Island coach bus service.
Originally known as Bolt Bus Long Island in 2012, Schoolman thought the company would be better off on its own and broke it off into its own entity, 7Bus, along with his son Mike, who is now the company’s president.
Now the father-son duo operates the company’s 17 coach buses, offering service from Melville, Ronkonkoma and Stony Brook to New York City and its subway system.
“We’ve worked together for a long time now, and I’d say it’s been wonderful,” Schoolman said of his son, who lives in Stony Brook. “All of our pricing is essentially less than any LIRR service. For example, a trip from Ronkonkoma to New York is $17.50; our maximum price for that trip is $17, while our lowest is $7.”
Buses from Melville run every day of the week from the park and ride at exit 49 of the Long Island Expressway. Seats are sold on a supply and demand basis – the more seats that are available, the lower the prices. Packages are also available that give commuters a specific number of trips to be used in a certain number of days, rivaling a similar plan offered by the LIRR, but at a lower price.
According to Schoolman, lower prices, along with customer service, have helped keep 7Bus rolling over the last two years.
“We’re one of the best-kept secrets on Long Island,” Schoolman, of Setauket, said. “There are a lot of features that differentiate us from the railroad… [With us] at least you can be productive while you commute. You can sit back, relax and sleep or turn on the computer, watch a movie or use the WiFi to get some work done.”
This dedication to customers was also evident in a special strike fare offered to customers of 7Bus as New York prepared last week for the LIRR strike that wasn’t.
Now, even with the strike averted, Schoolman is staying true to those altered prices.
“When we were getting ready for the strike, we didn’t want people to think that we were taking advantage of them,” said Schoolman, who sold tickets for $10 from any of 7Bus’ Long Island stops to Rego Park. “Even though the strike didn’t happen, we’re still honoring all of those tickets that were purchased.”
With the strike out of the way, 7Bus is hoping to help further serve its customers by solving bigger problems – like traffic.
“The Long Island Expressway is the second-most congested road in America,” Schoolman said. “Each of our full buses take 35 cars off of the road.”
But getting cars off of the road isn’t the only way to solve the problem, according to Schoolman. Other moves must be made in order to keep traffic to a minimum.
“All of the problems can be alleviated by managed traffic lanes, and New York will have to invest in them,” Schoolman said.
Though experiments are being conducted, Schoolman believes the problem will only continue to get worse until these special lanes are implemented in the same way they have been in Washington D.C. and California.
Others have begun taking notice too, with people like Mike DeLuise, president of the Melville Chamber of Commerce, citing traffic issues as a concern.
“Every opportunity to ease traffic is important,” DeLuise, of Glen Cove, said. “Being quick and efficient is essential. As we look to alternatives, 7Bus is another opportunity and it seems like they’re having success.”