A wince is the normal reaction I am met with when I say I’m travelling from Bristol to London on the megabus. “But they take so long, they’re always late, and they’re pretty disgusting, aren’t they?” Of course, it’s great sometimes to hop in my car and drive the 180 miles independently; it means I can leave whenever it suits me and I can bring whatever I want. But I’ve spent far too much of the last three years gridlocked on the m25 to really look forward to a drive back East. Believe it or not, I’m a megabus convert. Here’s why
1) It’s cheap
If you want to travel around Britain on a budget, it’s the only way to do it really. No other public transport option competes with the megabus. I’ve purchased a single Bristol- London ticket for £1.70 before, but on average I pay about £5 each way. I’d say the average return train fare is about £30, so it clocks in at about a third of the price. Different routes do cost more, with fares from Bristol- Leeds being about £15, but that is still a fraction of your average train fare.
2) It cuts out the m25
Anyone who travels regularly to the London suburbs knows the woes of the m25. After passing Heathrow airport, it’s always a fun guessing game- is it going to be an hours drive from here? Or is it going to be 6? The megabus has no use for the London orbital- it just slices straight through the capital when the m4 ends. Of course, it quite often encounters traffic in West London, but it is a lot less agitating sitting in traffic in Hammersmith than it is taking half an hour to move one junction on the m25.
3) It’s scenic
Okay, not all the time, but as I write this I’m on a coach passing through Chelsea as the sun comes up, and it all looks quite pretty. You drive past a few London attractions on the way through the city; marble arch and harrods to name a few. No open topped bus tour, of course, but driving around London gives me a warm fuzzy feeling in my belly. And the megabus is to thank for that.
4) It’s easy
No faffing around with collecting tickets, as all you need to board the coach is your confirmation number which is emailed to you when booking. You don’t even need the email up, you can just have it written down somewhere. The megabus is especially easy for me as in Bristol, it stops at my university which is (just about) walking distance from my house. Plus if your destination is south of the river, it is miles easier the getting a train. If I get the Bristol- London train line I have to get a tube through the city and then an overground train. The megabus stops at London Victoria Coach Station, where it is just a short walk to the train station from which I can get a straight train back to suburbia.
5) It comes ALL THE TIME
I’ve never had any problems with availability on the Bristol- London route. There’s always a few options to choose from, and if needs be I can book the night before without it costing the earth. The prices do increase as the departure date draws nearer, but I have personally never paid over £13 for one.
Of course, I am writing this on an extremely spacious double decker megabus with five other passengers on board. I have 4 seats and a table to myself and have just left London without being stuck in any traffic. On my journey to London yesterday, I was waiting for 25 minutes in the freezing cold and when I boarded it was absolutely packed. I was sitting in front of a couple who spent the whole time giggling and across from a man who spoke angrily on his phone for about half the journey. I ended up falling asleep folded in half in the tiny seat and it took me about half an hour to fully stretch myself out and feel normal again after I disembarked. This is an example of a bad megabus journey. But for me, these are few and far between, and the benefits draw me back time and time again.