WILKES-BARRE — When Nataki Bhatti got to the Intermodal Transportation Center on Public Square on Monday morning to catch her Martz Trailways bus to Harrisburg, she didn’t expect to be featured in a documentary about bus travel.
But Bhatti, an interdisciplinary artist from Wilkes-Barre, said all the right things when interviewed by a two-man film crew at the Martz terminal. Her art includes painting, fiber art, spoken word/performance and community art.
“I live traveling by bus,” Bhatti said. “I meet the most interesting people on the bus, and I’ve made some awesome friends. And, it’s affordable.”
Nick Catania, a 23-year-old producer and entrepreneur, takes buses almost everywhere. He and his cameraman, T.J. Giannetta, 22 — both are from the Hudson Valley of New York — were hired by the Trailways bus corporation in Virginia. They are traveling from New Paltz, N.Y., to Nashville to attend a major bus convention.
Trailways hired Catania to create a travel journal for social media about his bus trip, which began Sunday and ends on Friday. The purpose of the trip is to create a travelogue of modern bus travel from the viewpoint of a young, tech-savvy person.
He said the film, when completed, will be distributed by Trailways and will be available on YouTube.
“It’s about the journey,” Catania said. “We enjoyed riding on the winding roads of the Poconos. We have met people of all ages who use the bus for a variety of reasons. The film will be about modern-day bus travel.”
Catania said bus travelers don’t have to worry about gassing up their vehicles and passengers can enjoy the scenery along the way.
Catania said he has met people who travel exclusively by bus and others who use it occasionally. He said one man traveled by Martz to New York City four days per week for his job.
Another man, he said, rode the bus from New York to Wilkes-Barre to visit his girlfriend every weekend.
Trailways has arranged for Catania and Giannetta to ride Trailways buses and interline with Greyhound to reach Nashville in time for the American Bus Association (ABA) convention on Friday with more than 3,500 tour operators, suppliers, bus companies and other exhibitors.
Robert Chepalonis, general manager at Martz, will be at the conference, and he welcomed Catania and Giannetta to Wilkes-Barre, giving them a tour of the Intermodal Center and introducing him to Martz employees.
Martz is one of three bus companies being used in the film, Catania said. There are 78 bus companies in the Trailways association.
Chepalonis told the filmmakers that Martz is in its 106th year of operation and is proud of its employees, many of whom have been with the company more than 20 years.
Sharooz Pourmonir, a ticket clerk for Martz at the Intermodal, has worked at the bus company for 20 years.
“I love my job; I love the people,” he said.
Tony Fiorini, chairman of the Trailways board of directors, said the goal is to promote Trailways to a new generation of young people through social media.
“When we met Nick just last month, it was intriguing because he was taking the bus to the ABA conference,” Fiorini said. “Then, we learned that Nick is an audio engineer with experience in film making and photography, too. Most importantly, he is passionate about travel by bus. That was really the key. So, we quickly hired him to do this project.”
Catania and Giannetta will share their observations about modern bus travel as well as explorations of American cities and towns, like Wilkes-Barre, along the way.
They will ride Adirondack Trailways in New York, then Martz Trailways in Pennsylvania and Burlington Trailways in the Midwest, as well as portions on Greyhound.
Catania is a co-founder of a tech company called NickelBus Inc. (www.nickelbus.com), currently in its beta-test phase. Through the NickelBus website, consumers will be able to search bus schedules, routes and station locations all over the U.S. to find the best way to travel wherever they need to go, according to the company’s website.
NickelBus will be exhibiting at ABA. Trailways is also an exhibitor at ABA.
“We’re a tech company founded with a mission to bring more travel opportunities to thousands of people,” Catania said. “Our passion for exploration and travel radiates throughout all of our work, because that’s we’re all about. With Trailways and Greyhound, this bus trip is going to be a great American adventure.”