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Globe-trotting

Live from BoltBus

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April 27, 2008

On Thursday the much-ballyhooed BoltBus started its 12 daily trips between Boston's South Station and New York's Penn Station. Globe reporter Nicole Wong was aboard and posted this report:

We are here to see what the ruckus is all about - that is besides the stuff you already know like the promise of at least one seat for a buck and the free Wi-Fi, which we're using right now to blog.

So what's it like? For starters, when you arrive, you'd better remember which gate BoltBus leaves from because it isn't listed on the station's monitors. A Bolt spokeswoman said she was hoping station management would correct the omission quickly.

Boarding was amazingly orderly and cool. Bolt says one of its big selling points is that it guarantees you'll get on the departing bus you bought a ticket for because the company won't oversell seats like its competitors do. That means you don't have to arrive at the station an hour early during popular travel periods and stampede when the bus door swings open. BoltBus asks passengers to show up at least 15 minutes early and it boards in batches based on when you bought seats, with early birds getting seated first. That's how it worked this morning, and it was smooth. Still, some riders on today's 7:30 a.m. bus showed up 30 minutes early and queued up at Gate 21. Creatures of habit, perhaps.

NICOLE WONG

If you're making longer term travel plans, and they involve Alitalia, it might be a good idea to give it a second thought. The Italian carrier has been struggling for a while but things are looking particularly dire. The airline, which is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, was hoping a buyout by Air France-KLM would save it, but that deal fell through because the unions fought the prospect of layoffs. Now the Italian government is trying to offer the carrier a "bridge" loan to temporarily keep it afloat, suggesting that other "buyers" are waiting in the wings. There is, however, some question about whether the terms of the loan are legal. And even if they are, it's still not clear that those "buyers" will materialize.

PAUL MAKISHIMA

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