Megabus increases competition in London

STAGECOACH HAS extended its low-cost internet Megabus service with eight new routes providing links to London. The new services started on 1 March and join existing Megabus routes between London and Oxford; Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds; and major Scottish cities. The lowest fare on all routes is just £1.

As with the original Megabus services, the new routes are operated by refurbished double-deck buses imported from Hong Kong. The London services are using the Green Line coach terminal in Victoria, between Victoria coach and rail stations.

Stagecoach says that its initial trials have shown that the concept appeals to a wide audience, including students, commuters, families and silver surfers - the over 55s who use the internet.

Since the first routes was launched last August Megabus services have carried almost 200,000 people.

Brian Souter, chief executive of Stagecoach Group, says: "Megabus is one of the biggest changes to bus travel in decades. It is simple to use and will make inter-city bus travel affordable for everyone. We think it has the potential to transform the demand for medium-distance bus travel in the same way the low-cost operators have done in the airline industry."

Stagecoach has developed megabus.com by adapting the low-cost, no-frills approach of the budget airlines. Seats on the web-based ticketless service are yield managed in the same way as the budget airlines, with slightly higher fares for last-minute bookings or popular journeys. All reservations are subject to a 50p booking fee.

Around 400,000 hits have been registered on www.megabus.com during the trial and there is an average of one booking for every three visits, an extremely high conversion rate for such services.