Tens of thousands of travelers have already experienced the convenience of going back and forth between Washington, D.C. and New York, complete with WiFi, complementary water and a first-class experience thanks to the DC2NY bus company.
Company owners and life partners Asi Ohana and Richard Green operate with a mission to provide an upscale experience based on comfortable buses with clean restrooms from convenient locations.
“Small businesses, especially when owned by a couple who are life partners, sometimes make formal goals and sometimes make informal goals. Our short-term goals were to be profitable within the first year of business, and we were very fortunate that we were profitable within 90 days,” Green says. “We are currently carrying about 120,000 people a year and are definitely ahead of where we thought we would be.”
The genesis of the company dates back five years to when Israeli-born Ohana was working dispatching buses from D.C. to New York for Vamoose, and quickly learned the ins and outs of the bus business.
His career was moving up and soon, so was his love life. Ohana met Richard Green, a hospitality veteran working for Marriott, and they started dating. It didn’t take long for the two to decide to share a life together.
Taking what he had learned, Ohana wanted to start his own bus business, complete with a better payment system, guaranteed reservations and seat, providing a bottle of water to customers and most important, on-board internet access. He convinced Green to join him in his venture (Green has a 20 percent ownership share because he continues to work for Marriott full time) and the rest is history.
“Asi was the first to figure out how to put Internet on the busses and he knew that would differentiate the company,” Green says. “My thought was to give a little extra, which is why we started with the cold water given upon boarding.”
The Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission overwhelmingly supported DC2NY’s application for curbside pickup at Dupont Circle and in July 2007, Ohana and Green joined forces to start DC2NY, running routes between Washington, D.C. and New York City.
“We tend to be priced a little more than our nearest competition but that says that people are OK to expect a little more,” Green says. “We don’t let our clients touch their luggage once they put it on the curb, the drivers and dispatchers do it for you.”
The gay-owned company understands that the LGBT market is one of its niches—after all, its most popular stop is Dupont Circle—but to be a success it has catered to all people, young and old, different social classes, and multi-ethnicities.
“We are both gay, and like to think we’re the bus of choice for the community, but we don’t cater to it,” he says. “We had a bus in the Gay Pride Parade this year. We do sponsorship at certain events in Rehoboth, and put the brand forward for two dances that are fundraisers for Camp Rehoboth.”
The company has grown from three stops to a total of seven stops—one in New York, two in D.C., two in Virginia and two in the Delaware beach towns of Rehoboth and Dewey.
It started service to the Delaware beaches from D.C. a few years ago and just expanded service from New York City to Rehoboth. “The Beach Bus” runs from New York’s Penn Station to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware weekends beginning June 28 at 3:30 p.m., and includes one stop in Wilmington and drop-offs at the gay-popular Rehoboth and Dewey Beaches. Tickets are $45 each way from NYC.
“We’ve been doing the Rehoboth/D.C. route for four seasons and we started it because another company ran Rehobus, but stopped running it and we thought it made sense to pick up that opportunity to serve not only our gay clientele, but all people who want to go to the beach and not drive a car,” he says. “Our New York passengers started to request a bus that leaves out of New York, so we are running this as an experiment, and will run right up to Labor Day and see how we do.”
There will also be a stop at the Amtrak station in Wilmington to take advantage of the market in Philadelphia.
Separating their personal and business lives isn’t always easy, but Ohana and Green have found a way to make both a success.
“It’s fun to build something together with your life partner. Our board meetings often happen at the dining room table,” Green says. “We work off-hours, weekends, driving to the beach, vacationing. It’s hard to put boundaries around that. I look at it as I don’t have to put all my eggs in the small business basket and the rewards feed my entrepreneurial spirit.”
New routes that may happen in the next year include journeys from D.C. to Philadelphia and Boston and one from Baltimore to New York.