City Paper is not for tourists
On Friday, Aug. 21, some budget-minded travelers looking forward to cheap weekend bus trips to New York City got some bad news. Patrons of Vamoose Bus, one of several bus services operating between D.C. and Gotham, received the following e-mail: “Due to an injunction against us by Washington Deluxe Bus company, we are suspending operations as of Aug. 22.”
The injunction, which prohibits Vamoose from operating in the District, was the result of several months of legal wrangling between the two companies. The conflict stemmed from the fact that a current Vamoose employee had once been employed by Washington Deluxe; the employee, according to Andrew Citron, the attorney representing Washington Deluxe, is prohibited from working for a competitor.
Vamoose has been operating since February 2004, and owner Sam Bluzenstein says that Deluxe just wants to put him out of business. “They’re trying to avoid having competition,” said Bluzenstein, who has hired a new attorney to fight the ruling.
Bluzenstein offered refunds to customers who had their trips canceled, and on Aug. 28, Vamoose reinstated service, picking up and dropping off in Bethesda and Arlington instead of its former Chinatown and Tenleytown locations. Bluzenstein estimates that the change of locations has cut about half of his company’s ridership.
Marisa Marchitelli, a former District resident who moved to New York three years ago and uses buses to go back-and-forth several times a year, was one of the more than 1,000 people who had made round-trip reservations with Vamoose and was forced to find another way home.
But that’s par for the Chinatown-bus course, Marchitelli says, lumping the injunction in with long lines, crowded, dirty buses, and delays. “The services are unreliable,” she says, “so I often make reservations on more than one carrier.”