The Bridge Bus, a locally owned bus company that runs between Raleigh and Durham, will begin running this weekend.
The bus, which was created by 32-year-old John Parks, will run Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and is intended for people who want to access concerts and restaurants or commute to work. Parks is a Durham resident who said he was frustrated with the 30-mile trek to Raleigh, where he used to work and frequently attends concerts.
“Doing that commute everyday really drained me, and I think there’s a lot of people out there that feel the same way,” Parks said. “I’ve missed a lot of shows out of not wanting to get in my car and make that drive.”
Parks thought of the idea for the Bridge Bus when talking with friends who shared this frustration.
Two years later, his idea is reality. Parks left his job working in sales at Indy Week in order to create his company. He became officially licensed to drive the vehicle this summer, and he now runs the Bridge Bus with his wife, Molly. They conducted a trial run in September and will begin weekly operation this weekend.
Now, Parks is looking to grow the company, and sees Duke as an integral part of making this happen.
“Duke is such a big part of the Triangle and the Durham community,” Parks said. “I would love to have a symbiotic relationship where Duke gets as much out of the Bridge Bus as it can.”
Sophomore Ryan McCabe said he will be traveling to Raleigh this weekend for Bounce Music Festival and is planning on using a bus provided by the festival in order to get to the concert. He said he had not heard of the Bridge Bus, and the Bounce van service is easily accessible for him.
“[The van] was promoted by Bounce and it’s right on East Campus so it’s really convenient,” McCabe said.
McCabe added that, had he known about the Bridge Bus, he would have been interested in taking it.
Parks said he is open to partnering with festivals such as Bounce and making the Bridge Bus more convenient for Duke students. Other than services provided by festivals like Bounce, one competitor is Amtrak, which offers slightly cheaper round-trip tickets than the Bridge Bus, which charges $16.
The Bridge Bus, however, specializes in transportation for night life in Durham and Raleigh. Amtrak does not run late at night, and on some days has no night trains, making it difficult for Duke students to use for concerts. Although the Bridge Bus will regularly leave from downtown Durham, Parks says he can offer stops at both East and West campuses, and get students to and from a concert in one night.
Parks said he is also exploring the option of participating in the Duke-Durham Discount Program, created in 2005 and recently revived by sophomore Derek Rhodes, Duke Student Government vice president of Durham and regional affairs. The program promotes local restaurants and shops and offers discounts to students.
“It would be a really cool venture to add more than just food vendors but also different service providers in Durham,” Rhodes said.
After Parks gets the word out about his company, he hopes Duke students will be excited to travel to Raleigh. Parks, who graduated from Kenyon College—a small liberal arts college Ohio—said he knows what it is like for students to stay within their comfort zones. Parks does not think Raleigh will replace normal destinations such as Shooters and 9th Street, but rather provide new and interesting options to explore.
As the company grows, Parks said he plans to establish both student and group rates, and also add days, times and stops to The Bridge Bus. For now, this weekend is most important for his company, he said.
“It is going to be our real maiden voyage,” Parks said. “We couldn’t be more excited about it.”