New bus company on campus strives to be “Bestway”

By Diana Anghel , Contributing Writer

Bestway Charter, a transportation business founded in 2002, published a new website last week under the URL of www.bus2champaign.com. Students quickly found this website, along with advertisements and fliers about the transportation system that piqued their interest and curiosity. 

Bestway Charter opened new routes for the University campus, transporting passengers from Urbana (the front of the ISR) to Oak Brook Mall, Old Orchard Mall and Woodfield Mall; Bestway also offers routes to get back to campus from these locations. 

All departing trips are offered on Thursdays and Fridays while returning trips happen on Sundays and Mondays. A price difference can be seen between Bestway Charter, which currently sells one-way tickets for $19.95, and its competitor Peoria Charter, which sells one-way tickets for $31. Mike Becker, general manager of Bestway Charter, commented on the condition of the buses the company uses.

“(The passengers) have wifi on the vehicles; they have monitors for DVDs,” Becker said. “They’re nice vehicles. They’re all 2010 or newer.”

Because of its sudden installment on campus, students started to question where Bestway originally came from. Becker states he saw some posts on social media affiliating his company with Suburban Express.

The Suburban Express scandals that took place last school year, in which the bus company shut down after the attorney general filed a lawsuit against it on the count of discrimination, gained the attention of the public eye. 

Becker clarified Bestway used to be hired as a subcontractor for Dennis Toeppen, the owner of Suburban Express, for the last couple of years until Suburban Express shut down. Now, he said, Bestway has nothing to do with Toeppen at all. 

The Suburban Express website is still available for public use, and for a short period of time, one of the buttons on its page led to the Bestway Charter website. This led some students to believe Bestway is affiliated with Suburban Express. However, the same button was recently changed and now leads to the Amtrak website.

“Yesterday we checked his website, just for the heck of it, and we pushed on his ‘Illini Shuttle’ (button). It went right to our website, which means people are trying to affiliate us with him,” Becker said. “Obviously that wasn’t done by us, it was probably done by him. He also did the same thing to another bus company that we know of.”

Jason Carlson, freshman in ACES, took a Bestway bus to get home this weekend. Carlson said he would use this charter again. 

“The tickets were cheaper, and the ride was actually more comfortable than the other charters, in my opinion,” Carlson said. 

Kristi Lichtenberger, office manager of Bestway, said in an email she sees the company growing in the future. Bestway will be adding new pick-up spots on campus and hopes to become the number one transportation company for University students. 

“We see us expanding by continuing to grow organically, by diversifying our service offerings, by continuing to keep customers engaged, by gaining and retaining customers,” Lichtenberger said.

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Correction: This article was previously published with a photo of employees and passengers boarding a bus which is not owned or operated by Bestway Charter. The Daily Illini regrets this error.