Bus travel may not be the top form of transportation that comes to mind when local executives shuttle to Austin or Houston.
But one Park Cities resident wants to change that.
Alex Danza, founder of Vonlane luxury coach bus service, started his company after working in high-end ground transport for 10 years.
“Along the way, I came across the motor coach industry and realized that industry didn’t have much exciting going on,” he said. “It was pretty standard, predominately charter operators [such as] Greyhound and Megabus … but nothing at a higher level for more sophisticated travelers.”
Realizing this, he purchased a motor coach and had the interior transformed to resemble a private-jet cabin.
With one year under the company’s belt, the shuttle service provides transport to Austin and Houston from Dallas.
The next step is to link Austin and Houston, then later add additional cities such as San Antonio.
Most clients are traveling for business, though some are for leisure — such as older folks who can no longer drive themselves to visit family.
“They get dropped off right at door to the coach,” Danza said. “It’s a game-changer for them.”
Park Cities resident Wayne McCullough has used the service three times already and plans to use it more with his family come football season.
Danza argues — and McCullough agrees — that the service provides significant advantages over flying or driving yourself.
“I was just avoiding the general chaos of air traffic — taking your shoes off and trying to make your flight,” said McCullough, the president of Benchmark Private Wealth Management. “From point to point, the flight takes you 50 minutes but you have to get there an hour ahead of time and then you’re 25 minutes outside of town … it’s the same or a little faster with Vonlane.”
With the road scenario, Danza cites the advantage of being able to work or rest instead of spending your time doing the actual driving.
Customers see additional benefit.
“On 35, you white-knuckle it the whole time,” McCullough said. “They’re navigating traffic at central command at home. If there’s a wreck, they know ahead of time and take alternate routes. That’s my biggest concern.”
The buses shuttle back and forth from established hotel locations. In Dallas, that means the Doubletree near Love Field.
A variety of amenities are available once onboard, such as full beverage and snack service, muffins, sandwiches, noise-canceling headphones, pillows and blankets, newspapers, television, radio, Wi-Fi, and a wireless printer.
If you’re going straight to a meeting, they’ve even got things such as shoeshine kits, toothbrushes, pens, and pencils.
“It’s ease of use and comfort,” Danza said. “It’s not taking your suit and shoving it in an overhead, and when you get to your destination it looks terrible. It’s more dignified than the cattle call.”
It’s $100 one-way to book, which Danza said is pretty competitive when you consider flight prices and gas estimates.
Tickets can be purchased online or by phone.
Each coach includes 16 seats in addition to a six-seat conference room that may be reserved during booking.
“[Danza] saw a gap in the market,” McCullough said. “You’d never think of taking a bus, but once you use it, you will use it again.”