New airport shuttle service starting soon
COLUMBIA - For almost 15 years, MO-X has dominated the airport ground transportation market in Columbia--even buying out its main competitor at one point. But the service will face new competition on the St. Louis route, starting in August.
A new shuttle service called "EZ GO Bus" will begin its service August 1.
The company got its start when bus owner Jun Can Zhang and Teppanyaki Grill & Buffet restaurant owner Jiang Pin Lin found that many international students had trouble finding rides to the airport to catch their flights.
The pair partnered to start the service, adding an extra MO-X does not offer--every passenger gets a free buffet at Teppanyaki Grill & Buffet when he or she travels one way with EZ GO Bus.
"People are hungry before they leave so they want to eat before they go or eat when they come back," Manager Lori Turner said. "They always have that credit if they don't use it."
MO-X owner Norm Ruebling said he is not afraid of the new competition.
"Competition is good," Ruebling said. "I think we have a lot of loyal customers. I don't think that we will see much effect in it at all. Ever since we've been in business we've acted like there's four or five other shuttle companies. One company comes in, two, three, whatever it might be, we won't change a thing."
When asked if MO-X will make changes to fight the competition, Ruebling said no.
"As far as changing anything, there's nothing that we should change. I'm sure that they're going to model after us because we do it right."
Despite the competition, Turner is confident EZ GO Bus will take off.
"There's always going to be that fear of you know...starting a new business but I think with our prices and the free buffet it definitely will boost more of the morale around here for us," she said. "We've had a lot of phone calls ever since we had our signs installed. People are really looking forward to this new business. We want to change the game of the shuttle bus companies here in Columbia."
EZ GO Bus is charging $35 for a one-way trip that includes a free buffet at Teppanyaki Grill & Buffet. For a round-trip, it'll cost $70 with two free buffets.
MO-X currently charges $50 for a one-way trip and $94 for a round-trip, if booked online. Its standard rates are $52 one-way and $98 round-trip. Meals are not included in the price.
When asked if there is a possibility of adding meals like EZ GO Bus, Ruebling said, "No. Absolutely not." Ruebling said that EZ GO Bus might have trouble maintaining its price, citing the cost of maintaining the vehicles and gas prices.
"I wish them well with the price. Is going to be tough to do," Ruebling said.
Departing from Columbia
Departing from St. Louis
EZ GO Bus will offer service nearly around the clock, beginning trips to St. Louis at 2:30 a.m., with its last return departing from St. Louis at midnight. It will offer 13 trips in each direction each day.
MO-X currently shuttles passengers beginning at 5 a.m. from Columbia with the last return shuttle leaving St. Louis at 10 p.m. It offers 12 trips in each direction each day.
Ruebling said that the demand is not big enough for MO-X to have earlier trips.
"It's tough to be all things to all people," he said. "When you have one person a month who needs to get there 4 or 5 a.m. flight, does it make sense to run a shuttle the other 29 days a month during that time frame? It doesn't make sense to me."
"We picked those times to benefit our customers who don't want to drive their cars that early or don't want to leave their cars here," Turner said. "We wanted to pick it where they were able to have that advantage."
There are a total of nine bus drivers for EZ GO Bus while MO-X says it has a total of 80 employees and that everyone who works for MO-X drives.
In addition to MO-X's St. Louis schedule, it runs five round-trips to the Kansas City airport. EZ GO Bus will not serve the Kansas City route when it begins in August. Turner said the company is working on getting security badges for that airport.