Megabus.com to launch Lexington service on Monday

ctruman@herald-leader.com June 7, 2013 

BIZ INTERCITYBUS-BIZPLUS 1 TB

People wait to board a Megabus on South Canal Street in Chicago, Illinois,August 27, 2012. Megabus is an intercity bus service. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

TERRENCE ANTONIO JAMES — MCT

The budget intercity bus service Megabus.com, which offers fares starting at $1 via the Internet, will begin service in Lexington on Monday.

The company will offer travel from Lexington to Atlanta; Buffalo, N.Y.; Chattanooga; Cincinnati; Columbus, Ohio; Erie, Pa.; and Knoxville.

The arrival and departure station will be at 220 East Vine Street, outside the Lextran Transit Center. Buses will stop there four times a day.

Megabus, which serves more than 100 cities nationwide, has operations in North America, the United Kingdom and Europe. It is part of Stagecoach Group, a Scotland-based international travel company. In the United States, it is operated by Coach USA.

It launched in the United Kingdom in 2003 and came to the United States in 2006 with its first hub in Chicago.

The company's $1 fares are offered on every trip, but they often go quickly. Megabus announced in May that it was adding $5 and $9 fares on select routes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays through June in more than 28 cities. The earlier the fare is purchased, the cheaper the ticket.

A sampling of Lexington fares on Megabus.com on Friday bore that out. For one-way travel between Lexington and Atlanta on Monday, the first day of service, fare was listed as $18. For July 18, the latest date for which reservations could be made, fare was $3; it was $1 for Cincinnati.

In addition to online reservations, Megabuses typically have Wi-Fi service and power outlets, amenities appreciated by the tech-inclined younger riders to whom Megabus markets.

Its Facebook page has 142,000 friends who are alerted to fare discounts. On Twitter, it has nearly 19,000 followers.

Coach USA, which operates the Megabus service in the United States, could not immediately be reached for comment. But in May, Don Carmichael, executive vice president of safety for Coach USA, told the Austin American-Statesman that Megabus has received a "satisfactory" safety rating, the highest available, from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Since 2006, three bus crashes have resulted in three deaths, he said.

The most prominent of those wrecks was likely in August, when a Megabus traveling between Chicago and St. Louis crashed into a bridge pier after a tire blew; one person died.

Lextran spokesman Jill Barnett said that Lextran is letting Megabus use the transit center for pickups and dropoffs; no money changed hands for that arrangement, she said.

"We've had passengers and customers ask about Megabus, so when they contacted us it just made sense," Barnett said.

A Lextran document said Megabus will stop at the Transit Center on the High Street side at 10:25 a.m. and 10:25 p.m., traveling to Atlanta from Cincinnati and Buffalo, and at 7:55 a.m. and 8:40 p.m., traveling to Cincinnati and Buffalo from Atlanta.

Passengers seeking information or tickets should go to Megabus.com, or call 1-877-462-6342.

Cheryl Truman: (859)231-3202. Twitter: @CherylTruman.

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