Red Coach includes USF stop on bus route
Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 31, 2013 01:01
Red Coach, a “first-class bus service” that stretches from Tallahassee to Miami, will extend its route starting Friday to include a stop at the USF Tampa campus.
This stop will join two other stops in the Tampa area, located at the Tampa International Airport and downtown Tampa.
“We listened to student feedback through emails, calls and social media for the last year,” Kim Hinton, a spokeswoman for Red Coach, said. “Red Coach already services FSU, UF and UCF, and we realized it was time to extend our service to USF.”
A Red Coach bus was available to tour at Wednesday’s Bull Market, and representatives were present to answer questions and give out free ride vouchers and discounts to students.
Steven Fernandez, a geographical information system analyst, toured the Red Coach bus at Bull Market. Fernandez said he would use Red Coach for weekend getaways to Miami and other south Florida destinations.
“It’s a very nice bus,” he said. “I live within a mile of campus, so the new Red Coach stop is convenient for me. I could go all the way to Miami without ever having to drive a car.”
Each Red Coach vehicle is equipped with free wireless Internet, AC power outlets and 27 fully reclining leather seats. Tickets range from $50 to $65 a head to Tallahassee and Miami, $40 to $51 to Ocala and Gainesville and $35 to $46 to Naples. Students can receive a 10 percent discount when ordering by phone.
The bus will offer daily departures at 3:05 p.m. from the parking lot adjacent to Theatre I.
“Red Coach offers a first-class travel experience,” Hinton said. “Our main passengers are businessmen and businesswomen, but our student clientele is growing quickly.”
Hinton said that based on student feedback, Red Coach may soon extend their services to either Key West or Panama City Beach — in time for students to utilize during spring break.
Megan White, a junior majoring in health sciences, said she has a car on campus and often drives home to Tallahassee.
“I just found Red Coach online while I was trying to get my brother down here to USF,” White said. “He’ll use Red Coach to visit me here, and then we’ll drive back together.”
White said she didn’t think she’d use the new service herself.
“I have a car for a reason,” she said. “Plus, it’s actually cheaper for me to drive home and back than to take the bus, and much quicker.”
GMG Transportation, another company that provides bus transportation for universities, already offers bus services to and from Miami, with a stop located on campus as well.
According to the GMG Transportation website, its bus services are only available to university students and staff, as well as their family and friends. Of the 17 buses in their fleet, 10 buses include free wireless Internet and every trip includes a tour guide to answer passengers’ questions.
The company offers $35 one-way trips to Miami, and $50 round-trip services. It departs from USF’s Parking Lot 43, near the Byrd Alzheimer’s Center, on Friday afternoons and returns to campus on Sunday nights.
Sean Baraoidan, a freshman majoring in environmental science and policy, said he does not have a car on campus, and when he travels home to Miami he takes a train or small bus service.
“I didn’t even know about GMG, and definitely not Red Coach,” Baraoidan said. “Red Coach sounds great, but it also sounds more expensive. I’m a college student, so I’d go with GMG because it’s cheaper.”
Naya Valor, a sophomore majoring in nursing, said she often takes the train or flies home to Miami, but has taken the GMG bus service.
“The GMG bus was awful,” Valor said. “The seats are small, it smells like pee, it’s freezing cold, the driver is rude and the bus is really old. I prefer to fly or take the train.”
In the past, students who lived north of Tampa had fewer options to get home, as GMG does not directly service the panhandle from USF.