Transit line offers travel options for students, residents
Bus routes offered to Houston, Dallas on the way
Published: Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 00:09
The future of routine bus travel has found its way to College Station, thanks in part to the efforts of a group of business majors at Texas A&M.
The Dallas-based company, Starline Travel Group, is offering a unique bus riding experience from College Station to Houston. Starline is breaking out of the idea of typical bus travel, providing such commodities as free Wi-Fi, leather seating and a full cabin crew.
The company founders, Jase Chandler and Tommy Obenchain, reached out to multiple Aggies to handle various business relations at the local level. Senior finance major, Matt Barnes, acts as one of the head strategy executive members of the company. He was offered the position through a relationship with Obenchain.
“Tommy [Obenchain] has been in and out of College Station since he graduated from Vanderbilt two years ago, staying next door to me with a close friend,” Barnes said. “He’s always been a guy I looked up to, so when the idea was pitched I jumped on board.”
Both Barnes and senior finance major, J.D. Smiley, are entering the company as a startup internship. Together, they put in 12 to 15 hours weekly and have been involved with the company for a month now. In addition to their efforts, eight to 10 other Texas A&M students are also involved with the project.
“While J.D and I are the two top guys with the company in College Station, we have a marketing group of students that we use one to two hours a week as we need them to get a push on campus,” Barnes said.
Although he attended Vanderbilt, Obenchain has many ties to A&M and saw a lot of opportunity in the College Station area for increases in public transportation.
“We saw a hole that needed to be filled,” Obenchain said. “The lack of out-of-city transportation in such a vibrant city as College Station seemed strange. The basic idea of the company was to extend the experience of flying down the road to create an affordable, hassle free traveling experience.”
Beginning Sept. 6, Starline buses will run two round trips a day, from the Northgate area in College Station to downtown Houston.
Starline will be available for students and other residents. Regardless of the purpose of travel, Chandler and Obenchain are confident the business will be a hit.
“Tommy and I both worked in health care consulting and traveled a lot,” Chandler said. “Our main issue was not remaining productive during travel, and this sparked an idea for a business. With such a large student base in the city population, we believed the company would provide a fuller range of services to College Station.”
In addition to the basic cabin experience, Starline is also presenting the Starplus cabin that Obenchain said will be “an industry-leading first class product.”
A “gameliner” travel will also be available specifically for A&M football games, dropping the travelers off directly next to Kyle Field. In addition to Aggie home games, Obenchain hopes to see a Starline away-game transportation service departing from College Station later this fall.
In addition to the Houston route, Starline announced a Dallas route with plans to begin running by the end of the month.