21 August 2007

Megabus to move to VCS

From 1 October 2007, Stagecoach's low-cost inter city express coach operation, Megabus.com, will move from its central London terminus at Green Line in Bullied Way to the Victoria Coach Station opposite. Bullied Way is a dark and dismal locality and a sure fire way to put passengers off. In addition, Megabus will have their own bays at VCS and tickets for their services will be available from the Booking Hall up to 10 minutes before departure - the first ever relaxation of the concept of a totally internet-based coach service.

Minor expansion to the Megabus network is also to take place from that date with Chester and Newport added as destinatrions and a new service linking Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth and Winchester in the south of England with Oxford, Leamington Spa, Coventry and Birmingham in the Midlands. There will also be a new link between Birmingham and Preston, Glasgow and other locations in Scotland, as well as a later departure from London in the evening and an earlier departure to London in the morning. Passengers will also be able to travel on three additional daily journeys between Cardiff and London, one additional daily journey between Bristol and London and two additional daily journeys between Preston and London.

It wasn't so long ago that scaling down of Megabus services took place as few were doing much more than breaking even with the exception of the cross-border journeys to/from Scotland. All this is likely to anger National Express, who have a monopoly on departures at Victoria Coach Station, all fully paid for an legitimate; many of Megabus's planned expansions will operate head-to-head with identical National Express services, some departures are identical, too.

As someone who drives coaches to/from London Victoria Coach Station, it worries me about the logistics involved in physically fitting in all their services. National Express will still be the dominant operator there and even now there is very little space for layovers while drivers receive their minimum rest periods before operating another service out.

Megabus has a London Outstation which sees a number of vehicles parked in Victoria Coach Station overnight and a number of ex Leyton depot drivers operate to/from their each day, so seeing Megabus vehicles in VCS in the early mornings is not uncommon.