My standard departure hour from work is about 6 p.m. or so, which happens to coincide with the time that the Megabus coaches roll through downtown Columbus. The Megabus stop is at the corner of Fourth and Spring downtown, which is right along my route home.
Megabus is an interesting business concept. Owned by a British company called Stagecoach, it’s scheme is to provide low-cost, high-quality intercity bus service that competes with Greyhound. Unlike Greyhound, however, Megabus doesn’t have bus terminals — it just stops on the street at the appointed time, drops people off, picks people up, and rolls on.
Russell has used the Megabus and thinks it is a pretty good deal. The coaches are clean and equipped with the modern amenities, like plug-ins and wireless, and since there’s there’s nothing particularly glamorous about bus terminals he doesn’t feel like he’s missing out on anything by waiting on the street to catch a ride. Judging by the number of Columbusites I’ve seen using the Megabus, he’s not alone in that sentiment. There’s always a crowd waiting to board and always a crowd debarking, too.
The Bus-Riding Conservative is a big fan of bus companies like Megabus, and thinks we are foolish to try to rebuild rail infrastructure when Megabus can offer reasonably priced long-haul passenger transportation. I see the merit to the BRC’s analysis. Companies like Megabus use existing infrastructure and don’t require the expenditure of cash needed to permit high-speed rail travel in rail-free states like Ohio. Megabus also won’t need the ongoing governmental subsidies that rail travel seems to demand. If businesses like Megabus fail, taxpayers won’t be on the hook and stuck with a white elephant terminal — the intersection of Spring and Fourth will just be a little less crowded come 6 p.m.