United Kingdom-based Megabus, which last month began service across the Midwest, is hoping to shake up intercity bus travel with a discount-airline approach.
From Chicago, the company runs daily express service to Indianapolis, Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis, Milwaukee and Minneapolis. Indianapolis is a minihub, linked to Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio.
Fares are outlandishly cheap: as high as about $28 for a one-way ticket from Indianapolis to Chicago, for example, and as low as $1 if you book enough in advance. Fares on traditional bus carriers such as Greyhound Lines are higher – usually $30 to $35 one way from Indianapolis to Chicago – and the routes sometimes include intermediate stops.
How does Megabus keep fares so low?
Megabus uses online booking and sidewalk stops, not bus stations. And because tickets are sold on the Web, passengers board with nothing more than a reservation number checked by the driver.
In addition, it offers only direct service between major cities, sidestepping time-consuming routes with multiple stops.
The company hopes to find a market in the era of $3 per gallon gas and the Midwest, where most major cities are spaced several hours apart, would seem to be a good fit for bus travel.