A motorcoach service with prices as low as one dollar will begin serving East Lansing tomorrow.
Megabus.com is adding a route that will include three daily trips linking Chicago, Grand Rapids, East Lansing and Detroit.
The Amtrak station on Harrison Road will be East Lansing’s pickup and dropoff site. Tickets can only be purchased online.
WKAR’s Scott Pohl spoke with Dale Moser, President of the Megabus parent company Coach USA, about the six-year-old business.
DALE MOSER: We’re now almost just shy of 20 million passengers who have used our service. We serve almost 100 cities in North America. We’re quite frankly one of the fastest growing transportation alternatives out there, and this has created a lot of employment, new jobs that we’ve been able to create without any subsidy from federal or state governments, so we think it’s not only a good thing for the traveling public, we think it’s a good business story, especially as we are, hopefully, coming out of a recession.
SCOTT POHL: For people in East Lansing who aren’t familiar with Megabus, can you tell me the premise behind the company and how it operates?
MOSER: Sure. Megabus.com is an express bus service that runs every day of the week, runs three trips a day to and from Chicago and to Detroit. Pricing starts at $1 and then works its way up incrementally as the $1 fares are purchased, and then there are incremental pricing tiers. It’s yield management pricing pretty much like the discount airlines have used for 40 years.
POHL: You mentioned a bottom fare of $1. Once the service has begun, if I were to go online and want to buy a ticket for today or tomorrow, what’s the most expensive to, say, Chicago, from East Lansing?
MOSER: You’ll probably be somewhere in the $20 to $25 range for a last day of departure type ticket, one way.
Buy in advance to save
POHL: And am I understanding it correctly that the further in advance that you book your ticket, the more likely it is that you’ll get a less expensive fare?
MOSER: That’s correct. The sooner you have your travel plans made, the better your probability is of getting the really low discounted fares. But even saying all of that, as you do even get to the top fare, you’ll find that our top fare will still be more economical than driving, flying, taking a train, and sometimes, taking other bus companies.
POHL: How far in advance can tickets be purchased?
MOSER: Right now, we’re selling tickets into September of this year.
POHL: Can you describe the coaches for me?
MOSER: Right now, we’re using your standard motor coach, touring motor coaches that are used for tours and charter, but we will be implementing brand new, European touring double-decker buses that Megabus.com has become well known for. It seats 81 people, glass tops, seat belts, air conditioned, heated, environmentally friendly, every one is ADA equipped, rest rooms, free wifi, and electrical plug-ins.
Connecting to other cities
POHL: In comparison to something like Amtrak, is it possible to hook up with connections to take you to different cities beyond, say, Chicago or Detroit?
MOSER: Oh, absolutely. Our stop in Chicago is right next to the Union Station, so it would be a great intermodal connection to jump on an Amtrak train, or you could take another Megabus to other cities, say, St. Louis or Minneapolis or Kansas City or Memphis, right out of Chicago.