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travel for peanuts updated 3/04

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02.10.2003 (20.03.2004)

Advantages:
very cheap inter - city bus service

Disadvantages:
infrequent, slowish, online only

Recommendable Yes:

14 Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful See ratings
very helpful by (97%):
  1. salem_witch
  2. beckymilar_4
  3. MrMatthew
and 27 other members
helpful by (3%):
  1. Bo.the.rabbit

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I recently came across www.megabus.com, which operates bus services on these routes (as at Oct 03)

- Glasgow-Edinburgh
- Glasgow-Perth-Dundee
- Oxford-London
- Edinburgh-Perth-Dundee
- Edinburgh-St Andrews

The web site only relates to these services

This appears to be a subsidiary of Stagecoach which of course runs lots of bus services throughout the UK and has rail franchises such as South West Trains and half of Virgin Trains

I decided to try the Glasgow-Edinburgh route, which already has lots of competition from other coach Operators and train operators

The web site reminds me of easyjet.com (except its blue!!) and in fact the whole business model is very similar

It is simple and easy to navigate. I have a LAN and broadband connection so it is fast but I don't know how you would fare with dial-up

You basically pick the route you want, select the date and it gives you a list of available times and fares. There is an opportunity to select a repeat journey which would be useful for commuters. There is no search facility but no need

The first thing is that the fares are LOW LOW LOW. Glasgow-Edinburgh is £1 single currently for all journeys compared with a peak hour rail fare of about £15 return and other coach operators which come in at £5-£6 return

When you have selected the journeys you want, you go to an external (worldpay) site to input credit / chargecard details. There is an additional charge of 50p per booking (ie return journey) presumably to cover admin and they are upfront about this

The web site has clear Help and T&C pages

You can select a map to see where the buses stop. This is important because in my case they were not using established terminal points and I did not see 'megabus' marked on the actual bus stops (although maybe I wasn't very observant)

I have looked at other routes and they are currently simillarly cheap. the 1730 departure from London-Oxford for instance is £2 one-way today

A possible drawback is that the services are not very freqent. Glasgow-Edinburgh is two buses shuttling back and forth so the frequency is every one-and-a-half hours compared with train every 15 mins and coach every 20 mins or more

The fares are to the terminal points and you can get on / off enroute provided a stop that is listed. So in Edinburgh for instance you can get off in the suburbs or several stops in the sity centre

When you have made your online booking you need to print out the confirmation page OR write down the booking reference, I just copied to a post-it. They did NOT send me an email to confirm (again made clear this would not happen) so you do need to record this reference

It looks to me as if there is no telephone support, only email. If you lose your booking reference I guess this could be a problem

There are no refunds but if the bus dosent turn up they say they will make alternative arrangements. This could be a bit tricky if youve no phone number to contact them

So what was the journey like?

They advise you to turn up 10 mins before, so I did. The bus was a not-old but not-new double decker painted all over blue, fairly prominently marked with megabus.com and a smiley driver icon> I have no idea what vehicles they use on other routes, they could be brand new coaches as far as I know but I doubt it with fares this low

The driver checked my reference against a manifest, as I was the only person on that trip it was not a problem but if you had 50 people with scraps of paper to check this might delay things

You cannot pay cash fares, you must pre-book

The start point was opposite a main station (Queen St), fairly convenient. They do not use the swanky bus stations at Glasgow and Edinburgh, just bus shelters so this may be a consideration in deep winter or if you have luggage

The driver dutifully waited till the departure time, not sure why as I was the only person on his list

The bus was clean and had coach style seats but no seat belts as some coaches do

It had 'real radio' piped through the top deck which didn't bother me but it might annoy some, especially if you are sat near the speaker. The signal inevitably came and went which was slightly irritating

The bus takes longer than the express coaches but only by about another 15 mins. However this is double the train (when it's on time)

The experience of riding on a double decker on the M8 was novel. I was dropped off in central Edinburgh, I checked with the driver exactly where it called on the way back as it took a completely different route to other operators

I had booked on the last bus back (2115) but as the purpose of the trip was a pub crawl I decided to come back later by train. In the event this only gave me about another half-hours drinking time (because of the need to get a connection in Glasgow) and the train was late arriving back

If every journey like mine is only carrying one passenger, this isn't going to last long which is a pity

The web site is fine and the business model very attractive. The actual journey was not as high quality as alternatives but a bargain for £1

I imagine that if demand does go up, they will increase fares accordingly per departure, just like the low-cost airlines

Stagecoach started in Perth from nothing and successfully built up a large empire by under-cutting the competition so this is almost back to roots, however they are up against savvy operators this time not recently ex-nationalised companies so it might be more difficult this time

Updated March 2004

In February they were selling tickets for nothing (except for 50p transaction charge per booking, which could be for a number of journeys), I got a trip to Perth and Edinburgh for zilch. Worth checking out if they are doing this again. I was in Dundee yesterday and the services from Glasgow and Edinburgh came in, packed, so this has obviously taken off. The very cheap (£1) fares are not always available now. Easybus is shortly to make an arrival in unspecified locations with a similar offering. Word is this might be Birmingham to London. They will use minibuses

Updated again

Scottish Citylink are offering tickets for £1 one-way on some routes, £2 on others, during March and April. Their coaches are superior to megabus. I got a £2 round trip to Edinburgh and £4 to Perth. Not as quick as the train but well appointed. Perth coaches had toilets on board, the Edinburgh trip is too short to justify it.

National express are doing travel anywhere for £9 in March

competition is obviously having an effect!!


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Comments about this review »

beckymilar_4 25.12.2004 19:22

very helpful. Iv never travelled by coach before, only what looks like an ordinary bus? im the website is not very helpful at clarifying what you are travelling by

monsieur.Joda 27.04.2004 14:55

Nice work!

molelover 13.04.2004 15:14

I thought about using the Perth-Edinburgh one to commute, but a)I'd have to drive to Perth first and b) it leaves at about 7am from Perth - eek! And since they are ripping up the bridge, I think I'd better stick to the train over the summer!

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Type Online Ticket Booking
Domain Extension .com

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Review Ratings »

This review of megabus.com has been rated:

"very helpful" by (97%):

  1. salem_witch
  2. beckymilar_4
  3. MrMatthew

and 27 other members

"helpful" by (3%):

  1. Bo.the.rabbit

The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.



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