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Old March 24th, 2006, 02:43 AM   #1
hkskyline
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MISC | Megabus in the UK/USA/Canada

Bus service set to offer low fares to 8 cities
By Kathy Bergen, Tribune staff reporter
23 March 2006
Chicago Tribune


Megabus in the UK

Chicago's status as a transportation hub will get a boost next month with the launch of an Internet-based, low-cost bus service offering daily non-stop travel between downtown and eight Midwestern cities.

Aimed at leisure travelers, frugal students and seniors, Megabus.com will operate on a hub-and-spokes model, with Chicago as the center. Starting April 10, motor coaches will make express runs to Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and St. Louis.

"It's based on the discount airline concept," said Brian Souter, chief executive of Scotland-based Stagecoach Group PLC, whose Coach USA unit announced the pilot program Wednesday. The goal is book a high volume of low-cost fares.

"We will be cheaper than any other fare on any other form of transportation," Souter during a news conference at Navy Pier.

Booking must be done through the Web site, which was launched Wednesday. At least three or four seats on each one-way trip are available for a $1 fare. At the upper end, one-way fares will range from $9 to $27.50, depending on the city.

In the United Kingdom, where a similar program has been in place for three years, the average one-way fare for a 200-mile trip is the equivalent of $10, Souter said.

"It's kind of exciting," Joseph Schwieterman, a transportation expert at DePaul University. "There has been very low innovation in our region's intercity bus system for the last 25 years, and it's great to see a high-tech approach to schedule management.

"Out east, there are a number of innovative niche carriers who are prospering by offering luxury buses with movies and kitchenettes and service to the heart of Manhattan. They are giving Amtrak a run for its money in certain areas."

Still, another observer said this is a tough time for any type of alternative transportation service to take off.

While airfares have risen over the past 18 months, they remain low and aren't expected to rise substantially, said Morningstar analyst Chris Lozier.

"I'm not about to condemn [Megabus.com] to an early death, but it would be a tough business to be in," he said. "Ticket prices would have to be pretty low to entice travelers onto buses."

In the United Kingdom, Megabus.com expects to sell 2 million tickets this fiscal year, Souter said.

In Scotland, the 3-year-old program is profitable, with margins in the single digits and rising, he said. In England, where the program started later, results have been breakeven, but the operation is expected to post a profit this year, he added.

About $5 million is being invested in the U.S. launch, Souter said. About 85 employees will be hired, including 65 drivers. The company will not operate shelters or depots, relying instead on pick-up sites agreed upon with local transit authorities. In Chicago, the stop will be on South Canal Street, across from Union Station.

It should take about nine months to see whether the pilot service catches on, Souter said.

If it proves popular, the company may introduce the double-decker buses used in Britain, because they can hold 93 passengers, as opposed to 55 in standard motor coaches. As well, the program will be expanded to other U.S. regions and Canada.

Greyhound Lines Inc., which has added express routes as part of a restructuring program, does not plan to copy the Megabus.com model, said spokeswoman Anna Folmnsbee.

"Greyhound customers know that when they come to a facility and buy a walk-up ticket, which most of them do, or buy one through the Internet or our 1-800 line, they know they will have a terminal and facility to wait in," Folmnsbee said.

The recently renovated terminal in Chicago "has plasma TVs, food service, rest rooms--it's a comfortable, safe place to wait while the bus comes," she said.
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Old March 24th, 2006, 02:50 AM   #2
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It's an interesting idea. $1 will certainly cause a stir, although we all know that most people will be paying more than that.

Here's some pics from their website:

Streeter UC in back

Adler Planetarium

Navy Pier
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Old March 24th, 2006, 02:54 AM   #3
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Intreasting. Wonder if it will work. The only thing I am not sure of is people who might actually use the line to say Detroi to St.Louis or Cleveland to St.Louis is if having to go up into the loop makes sense for those who want to transfer. If you want to have true conveniance for transfers in such cases you would want a stop in south Chicago that is closer to the south shore.
I am guessing such a project would mainly be used by Chicagoans anyway so maybe it wouldn't matter.
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Old March 24th, 2006, 02:57 AM   #4
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They also could be a big hit for Cubs-Sox fans who want to travel to AL/NL central division cities for away games without the hastle or expense of airports.
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Old March 24th, 2006, 03:28 AM   #5
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Ah, the Megabus.

I've spent way too much of my life on those buses. They may be cheap, but good God!- no leg room is an understatement. A hungover trip from Glasgow to Aberdeen is not something you want to do ever, not to mention on one of those bastards...

Still, it is phenomenal value for money, £1 or $1 for a 3 hour bus journey is fantastic
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Old March 24th, 2006, 11:28 PM   #6
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Wow, I guess they're really successful in the UK, so they'll be successful in the US. How much is an average Greyhound fare? I guess Megabus competes well against National Express in the UK, so it'll be fine.
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Old March 25th, 2006, 05:40 PM   #7
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I must try one. I see them all the time at Preston bus station. Maybe when I'm bored one day I'll just pay a pound and travel 200 miles to London
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Old March 25th, 2006, 09:12 PM   #8
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I see this $1 service is being run by Coach USA. I would trust riding these buses since they're safe.

I hope it's successful in the US, then they can bring the service up to Coach Canada.
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Old March 25th, 2006, 10:49 PM   #9
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^ ^I've gone on dozens of National Express trips, but never a Megabus trip for some reason. It just doesn't have as many routes as NE does. I still look for low fares at Megabus though. I have gone on their sister service Megatrain though, to Portsmouth from London for a pound. It was just the tail carriage of a SWT service!
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Old March 26th, 2006, 03:01 AM   #10
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I hate bloody Megabus. Not enough legroom, evil toilets and obnoxious drivers. I once took theLondon>Birmingham service, and, because of some roadworks, the driver couldn't find its way to central B'ham, causing a minor fuss until some lady came out to rescue him and showed him the right route.

Nowadays, National Express is battling with Megabus fares, using the "funfare" which is a special advance reduction. It can be much cheaper, with £2 for a London-Brum route, when Megash*t is advertising his "£1" and as soon as you hit their website, all those fares have misteriously disappeared and the only places left are the most expensive ones......bah....
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Old March 26th, 2006, 10:08 AM   #11
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If you book really early, you can get those superlow funfares. It's usually the most inconvenient times too (the earliest buses, or the latest ones).
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Old March 26th, 2006, 11:17 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVS
because of some roadworks, the driver couldn't find its way to central B'ham,
Calling obnoxious staff "it" -- good idea
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Old April 20th, 2006, 05:15 PM   #13
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Get to Chicago -- for $1
By Elisa Crouch
20 April 2006
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

It was 10 minutes before scheduled departure time, and there was no bus to board. There was no marked bus stop, and no person to take tickets. Some passengers waiting outside Union Station in downtown St. Louis this week wondered whether their dirt-cheap bus fares to Chicago were legit. Some paid as little as $2.50 for a round-trip ticket. Some paid as much as $50.

"I can't afford to be skeptical," said Sidney Cogen, in his 30s, his duffel bag at his feet. And then a big blue bus with "From $1" painted in gold on its side pulled up to the curb. The driver hopped onto the sidewalk. He asked to see confirmation numbers and then motioned people aboard.

The latest mode of intercity transportation is megabus.com, an Internet-based bus service with multiple express runs between Chicago and eight Midwestern cities: St. Louis; Minneapolis; Indianapolis; Cleveland; Columbus, Ohio; Cincinnati, Milwaukee and Detroit. Tickets really do start at $1, though no more than five seats per trip are sold for a buck. There's a 50 cent booking fee. Average fares are $10 to $12 one-way, and the highest ticket prices are about $30 one-way.

All tickets are booked online at megabus.com.

With only 13 passengers boarding, it took less than five minutes for the driver to verify each person's ticket information. There was a family of four from Cleveland, a woman from the Netherlands, an accountant and college student living in New York, a research assistant from Chicago and others listening to iPods.

It was 8:45 a.m. Time to leave.

"We'll be in Chicago at 2 o'clock," the driver announced from the center aisle. "We're going to have a good trip and have fun along the way, OK?"

Megabus is a subsidiary of Coach USA, whose parent company, Stagecoach Group, started a similar service in Scotland about three years ago. It has since expanded throughout the United Kingdom. Megabus debuted in the United States on April 10 with service to Chicago.

That day, a bus traveling from Cleveland to Chicago ran out of gas near Michigan City, Ind. The 10 passengers aboard waited an hour for a refueling service to fill up the tank. Published accounts say the company forgot to tell the driver to fill up in Cleveland and offered passengers vouchers for another trip. Megabus now requires drivers to refuel before every trip.

Company officials hope rising gasoline prices prompt travelers to get out of their cars and hop on a bus, rather than on a train or airplane. When pump prices surpassed $3 in September, ridership on many scheduled bus routes increased by double-digit percentages, said Peter Pantuso, president and chief executive of the American Bus Association. Those $3 gasoline prices threaten to return this summer.

"The timing is probably right not only for Megabus, but for everyone in the scheduled service industry," Pantuso said.

Unlike Greyhound, whose buses make up to seven stops between St. Louis and Chicago, a Megabus travels to the Windy City nonstop, except for the 30 minute break at a Bloomington truck stop.

On Monday, brothers Mitch and Jason Appleson, 24 and 20, watched Illinois cornfields whiz by from the bus window. Surrounding them were mostly empty faux-velvet seats, all of which reclined, had arm- and footrests, and reading lights. The overhead television monitors remained off. Occasionally, the bus driver would flip on the radio, switching channels when reception faded to static.

The two were visiting family in Chicago and decided to visit their grandmother in St. Louis, Mitch Appleson said. They booked at the last minute and each paid $50.50 round trip, the most of anyone on the bus but still less than they would have on Greyhound, Amtrak or Southwest Airlines. Given that only 13 of the 55 seats were filled that day, Appleson wondered whether and how the service would make it.

"Like a lot of businesses, I guess you have to start out losing money before you make money," he said.

Megabus' financial model is patterned after low-cost air carriers that sell seats starting at $39, said Dale Moser, president and chief operating officer of Coach USA. However, the most expensive seat on Megabus, even if it's the last seat left booked at the last possible minute, will cost less than driving, Moser said.

"Its going to take time for it to catch on," Moser said.

Buses appear to be far from full. The following morning at Chicago's Union Station, a Megabus from Milwaukee appeared to be about half-full. The bus returning to Milwaukee had about 15 people on it.

"There were only eight of us on the way down here," one woman said as she got on the bus. "It was great."

A few minutes later, six passengers boarded the delayed 9:15 a.m. bus to St. Louis, including Mike and Maggie Ryan, who live in the city.

They spent the return trip reading and sleeping. Their total travel costs were $18.50. Their fuel savings were significant, though not excessive, they said. The reason: They drive a hybrid.

"It's so easy," Maggie Ryan said. "I hope they make it."
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Old May 23rd, 2007, 06:58 PM   #14
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Low-cost Bus Service's Popularity Fuels Expansion to Five Cities
Press Release

CHICAGO (March 8, 2007) - Megabus.com today announced the expansion of its intercity, express bus service to five additional cities. Megabus.com service is now available to and from Ann Arbor, Mich.; Columbus, Ohio; Kansas City, Mo.; Louisville, Ky. and Pittsburgh, all with direct routes from Chicago. Passengers can begin booking today for travel on April 2, 2007 and beyond at www.megabus.com.

With the addition of these five cities, megabus.com, a subsidiary of Coach USA, a Stagecoach Group company, will have service available between its hub in Chicago to a total of 13 cities. This total includes the previously serviced cities of Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, St. Louis and Toledo, Ohio.

"As before, passengers who book travel far enough in advance can secure tickets for as low as $1," said Brian Souter, chief executive of Stagecoach Group.
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Old October 31st, 2007, 01:14 PM   #15
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Budget bus line Megabus cancels Pittsburgh service
9 October 2007

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Chicago-based budget bus line Megabus.com has canceled its Pittsburgh service due to low ridership.

Megabus also cut service in Louisville, Ky., said Dale Moser, president and chief operating officer of Coach USA, the domestic subsidiary of Scotland-based Stagecoach Group PLC that runs Megabus.

"We think it's just a demographical issue," he said Tuesday, referring to the lack of customers.

The Pittsburgh region had the steepest population decline among cities outside areas hit by Hurricane Katrina from 2000 to 2006, according to Census Bureau estimates.

Megabus.com, which advertised rides from Pittsburgh to Chicago for as little as $1, began operating in a number of Midwestern cities last year. It launched new routes to Pittsburgh and other cities in April.

Last week, Megabus announced it was starting service between Chicago and Bloomington-Normal, Ill.

To keep fares low, Megabus uses online ticketing and sidewalk stops instead of ticket counters and bus terminals, a model imported from the United Kingdom.
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Old October 31st, 2007, 01:55 PM   #16
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The Vomit Express.
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Old October 31st, 2007, 03:56 PM   #17
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They probably aren't doing well, because they don't have terminals, any advertising, and all sales are on the internet or phone.
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Old September 5th, 2008, 04:55 PM   #18
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The Next Big Thing Is ... The Bus?
8 September 2008
Newsweek

If all you did was follow the headlines, you’d think it’s been a lousy summer for the bus industry. In July, Greyhound made news when a Canadian man was decapitated by a fellow passenger on a bus trip to Winnipeg. A week later a bus in Texas drove off a bridge, killing 17 people. And, of course, swollen gas prices must be ruining the industry’s bottom line, right?

In fact, the bus biz is enjoying a renaissance. Ridership is up for the first time since 1960, thanks to the rise of discount carriers such as Megabus, and Greyhound’s BoltBus. With cheap fares and slick new buses equipped with Wi-Fi and electrical outlets, companies have lured travelers looking for a dependable ride on someone else’s gas dime. And no dingy bus stations: the new carriers offer strictly curbside pickup.

“We’re remaking the image of the bus,” says Megabus president Dale Moser, whose company offers Web fares as cheap as $1. In May it expanded from the Midwest into the jampacked Northeast corridor, which already has 12 passenger-bus lines. “I don’t think they’ll all survive,” says DePaul University transportation professor Joe Schwieterman. “It’s never been this competitive.” Or this cozy.
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Old September 5th, 2008, 06:02 PM   #19
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great idea...i've never heard about this...

tell me, if trip costs 1$... what is the profit of those companies then?
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Old September 5th, 2008, 06:12 PM   #20
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They used to be in SF but i think they pulled out.
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