LimoLiner, a Boston-to-New York bus service that brought some of the amenities of high-end air travel to the highway, abruptly shut down on New Year’s Eve after nearly 17 years in business.
“Regrettably, LimoLiner has reached the end of the line,” the Stoughton-based company wrote in a Facebook post, citing “financial reasons” and thanking “our loyal customers and our dedicated staff.”
Founded in 2003, LimoLiner had attracted a devoted following of customers who valued its luxury touches and reasonable prices. The company offered free movies, spacious leather seats, and fresh meals served by onboard attendants — typically for one-way prices below $100.
LimoLiner, which had eight buses and 25 employees, ran multiple daily trips to Midtown Manhattan from the Back Bay and Framingham.
In an interview, company president Mark Richardson said the company was in the process of filing for bankruptcy protection amid rising expenses for insurance, mantenance, and labor. After recent discussions with potential buyers fell through, the company had no other choice, Richardson said.
“It was our last resort,” he said of the shutdown. “Coming into the new year with our slow season, we just felt we were no longer able to continue operating.”
He said competition had been dragging on ridership, with other bus companies hitting the market as airlines and Amtrak lowered prices for Boston-New York travel.
Richardson said the company is reaching out to people who had purchased advance tickets before the shutdown, and that company lawyers will get in touch with them to discuss refunds.
Some regular customers said they considered LimoLiner an affordable and comfortable alternative to Amtrak trains, and an upmarket substitute for competing bus lines. A 2017 review from the news organization Business Insider referred to LimoLiner as “the Rolls-Royce of buses.”
“It felt like this extravagant way to travel, but it really wasn’t so expensive compared to taking a train,” said Susan Rubin, a Stoneham resident and enthusiastic LimoLiner rider.
Rubin said she travels to New York several times a year — for work, to visit family, and to see theater performances. She said attendants would provide regular updates on traffic and arrival time, and noted that the service offered a selection of decent dining choices such as chicken Caesar salad.
Now, she’ll have to go back to another bus company or take the train. “It just feels like more of a hassle, as opposed to, ‘Hey this is a fun part of the journey,’ ” she said.
As customers reacted to the news on Facebook, some mentioned that the LimoLiner service made it easier for elderly relatives to travel to New York. Others shared personal stories that made them feel wistful about the business’s closure.
Christine Curren of Hopkinton recalled taking the LimoLiner from New York when she lived in New Jersey and her then-boyfriend lived here. They’re married now, and she hasn’t used LimoLiner in years.
“Now that I know they’re going to be no longer offering services,” Curren said,
“I feel like I should have taken one last trip.”
Andy Rosen can be reached at email@example.com.