New Chicago airport bus service comes to South Bend

NOW: New Chicago airport bus service comes to South Bend

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -  A new bus service just got rolling today to take over for the "Super Saver" service which ended late last year.

“The other bus was horrible, the train is not the best and ubering is expensive,” Alfredo Escubar, one Notre Dame student said.

Notre Dame students said they remember Super Saver bus service.

“It was slow, it wasn’t comfortable, and it smelled like pee,” Escubar said.

“They would cancel it, it would just not show up,”  Estefania Castillo said. “It was pretty slow. The shortest one would take 4 hours.”

The service ended at the end of 2019, leaving South Bend residents to rely on Uber or the train to get to O’Hare or Midway, but now there’s another option.

“The Royal Zoom is you renting a seat to go to the airport or you can go within any of the cities along our route,” Shannon Kaser, the owner of Royal Excursion said.

Kaser said Royal Zoom is an added service by Royal Excursion who has been in the Michiana area for years renting buses out.

The airport bus service officially started Tuesday and they already have sold several hundred tickets.

“Our first day today, we should have close to 100 riders, there are walkups welcome so that number could go up and we’ve sold over 700 tickets so far,” Kaser said.

There are bus stops at Notre Dame and South Bend International. Those buses go to Michigan City where it’s a direct route to O’Hare or Midway.

“It’s direct from there, so it’s cutting over an hour out from the previous service,” he said.

Two hours or less from South Bend to Midway and 2 hours or a little more to O’Hare, depending on traffic.

Right now there are also stops in Valparaiso, Griffith, and Michigan City to get to both O’Hare and Midway.

“We bought a whole fleet, we have 8 buses running a day,” he said.

Kaser tells ABC57 buses go to the same stop 4 times a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year, so anyone will be able to get where they are going.

He said that there are some differences compared to the old service.

“We did modify the schedule, type of busses, pickup locations, just being more efficient on how we’re running the system,” he said. “Prices are similar, our buses are newer, our drivers are well-trained, they’re focused on customer service. Our reservation system is very easy. It’s all He said the bus will include Wi-Fi power outlets, restrooms, luggage areas, and reclining seats. However, he said the main difference is the hour cut off the trip.

Notre Dame students say they welcome change.

“If I have to take a bus if it’s cheap and fast why not take it,” Escubar said.

“I think that would be a great service if they can make it a competitive price compared to like an uber there, competitive time,” Castillo said. “I would take it.”

Kaser said their goal is to have over 200 riders a day and it looks like they are well on that way since the bus from Notre Dame to O’Hare on Friday is already 95% full with just a couple seats open.

“We want something that’s easy for people to remember that people can count on so we’re committed to run this every day and make it work,” Kaser said.

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