A “MegaBus” for Oregon?

We’ve always heard that the Celts were thrifty. Apparently what Ryannair did for air travel in Europe the Mega Bus enterprise has started doing likewise for surface travel. And now it is also operating in three major population centers in the United States with internet fares for inter-city travel. They even offer lottery type promotions for the prize of a one dollar fare—via the Internet of course.

MegaBus—in keeping with thrifty operations–operates double-decker buses with a total passenger capacity of 81. Apparently some versions carry up to 94 passengers. A typical long distance passenger bus in the US carries 50 passengers

MegaBus (owned by Stagecoach Group, Ltd) cites three attractions for the economically, eco-conscious traveler:
-More than six times more fuel-efficient than easyJet
-Produces seven times less CO2 emissions
-Offers cheaper fares for budget travellers

Mega Bus’s US operations (by Coach, USA) has three main regions of service:
1.Began in Chicago, in March 2006, with daily routes to Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, St. Louis, Ann Arbor, Columbus, Louisville, Toledo, Detroit, Kansas City and Minneapolis.
2.On August 8, 2007, Megabus introduced service to the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Diego, and Tempe, Arizona
3.On May 30, 2008, Megabus began service from a hub in New York City, with service to Atlantic City, Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo , Philadelphia, Toronto, and Washington, D.C.

But Oregon is not an area of high density corridors connecting numerous large population centers. So would MegaBus, or something similar work?

My thought is that a mix of daytime and overnight service using a double decker format could break even. True, we don’t have a large number of higly populated cities. But what we do have is a fewer number of routes—and plenty of recreational destinations along the way. For example there might not be a lot of travelers chomping at the bit to go from Portland to Klamath Falls, via US Hwys 26 and 97. But there are a number of popular recreation destinations—popular with hikers and bicyclers in the summer and skiers and snowshoers in the winter. Along the mentioned route are: Mt. Hood, Kahneeta and Warm Springs, Billy Chinook Reservoir, Redmond, Bend, Century Drive, SunRiver, Metolius River. Bachelor Butte, Wickiup Reservoir, Oregon Cascades Recreation Area, La Pine. Mt Thiessen wildeness area, Sprague River, Crater Lake National Park, Upper Klamath Lake, and Klamath Falls, of course.

An Oregon Coast route is practically a no-brainer. And the I-5 route, of course.

On more remote destinations–such as to Ontario or Burns or the Wallowas—- an overnight service with sleeping capacity could work. Simply spacing seats about thirty percent further apart will allow them to recline fully. Another option would be to have seats facing each other that also fold down into a bench, when the table is lifted out of the way. I have also thought about the possibility of sleeping compartments: It would seem that a two level design would open up possibilities. (Being alert for “camp robbers” could become necessary at night, and I would not leave valuables anywhere that isn’t secured….. And no playing of old Eagles hits, late at night, either) If you wanted to attract recreational travelers adequate storage for a bit more gear would be requisite. This would be an opportunity for the carless to get somewhere fun and for recreationalists to leave the car at home.

So there you have it—a bit of Old England and the Wild West all in one.

9 responses to “A “MegaBus” for Oregon?”

  1. I ride megabus frequently in the northeast corridor, and I can say with certainty that the Megabus business model will not work except for in cities. There are plenty of high-demand recreational areas in the northeast that megabus doesn’t serve, and the demand for west-coast recreation destinations is even less. The megabus model uses “demand management” to ensure that every bus is full on each end of the trip. This can only be accomplished city-to-city as recreation destinations suffer from a peak-loading problem (ie, who would ever run a bus from Lincoln City to Portland on a Friday evening?). There could absolutely be success on the Vancouver/Seattle/Portland corridor, as well as between Spokane/Walla Walla/Yakima, but that’s about it.

  2. If they couldn’t make it work in California, with 10x Oregon’s population, I don’t see how they’d make it here.

    That’s not to say a different business model using bi-level coaches might not work. It wouldn’t be MegaBus though.

  3. Well there is a fair amount of bus service to remote destinations. However, I don’t know if a party that wanted to camp, such as by bicycle, could take all of their gear with them on a grey Hound? There is the Valley Retriever Bus going to some central coastal spots. There is the Amtrak thruway to Astoria, CB and Seaside (subsidized) and there are some county lines. I was on Greyhound in Minnesota and Wisconsin and I don’t know how they make that pay with as few passengers as they had. Although if a family of four were going camping at the Metolius, I suppose driving is the cheapest way.

    But I was also thinking of carless people (many out of necessity instead of choice) that would like to get from one small Oregon town to another. I was not envisioning this as some recreational travelers pet project. However, the more groups you can appeal to the better, That is why I put in the overnight option. If you can nod out for eight hours and arrive where a plane doesn’t connect,anyway, why not?

    Greyhounds are sometimes inefficient with the layovers they have. But when I worked in Seattle and came back once every two weeks, I found the bus was often superior to AMTRAK—and a refreshing alternative to being at the wheel.

  4. Great idea, but the returns will probably not be enough to satisfy the greed of the investors.

    This is Amerika don’t forget.

  5. I started looking at Megabus’ site, and decided to plan a theoretical trip that from Buffalo to NYC which I’ve done by air, train, and car before. I tried to use the same dates for each, but I was willing to add one day if needed (7/24 to 7/27 was the target).

    Megabus was the cheapest at $38 to get the NY, but unfortunately no return trips were available 7/27 or 7/28.

    Amtrak was $110 ($55 each way), but both options took just over 8 hours.

    Jetblue is my favorite airline to take to NYC, since I’ve had the best luck as far as landing close to on time with them. Also they were a lot cheaper than Southwest, down to $54 each way if I switched to 7/23 to 7/28, and only about an hour and twenty minutes.

    Sadly Greyhound (which I never took) was by far the longest (9 hours) and was still $88. Megabus is only $8 cheaper, but couldn’t serve the return trip, so I can’t imagine they’re doing that well.

    Even when I was a broke college student I don’t know if the $16 difference was really going to convince me to take Megabus instead of flying. Amtrak I might take as part of the vacation, but it would cost more than flying.

    I’m really not sure they’d be able to compete with Amtrak around here, for a trip to San Francisco I might take a Megabus, but Southwest is usually less than $150 for a direct flight. To Seattle Amtrak’s cheap enough I can’t imagine Megabus being worth it. Maybe to Bend, since Amtrak doesn’t serve that market, but I really doubt there would be the market to make it work.

  6. Megabus was the cheapest at $38 to get the NY, but unfortunately no return trips were available 7/27 or 7/28… Megabus is only $8 cheaper, but couldn’t serve the return trip, so I can’t imagine they’re doing that well.

    They run this route a few times per day – but it was sold out, rather than not offered.

  7. Well, if you can find AMTRAK or an airline to take you and camping gear and bicycles from Portland to the Oregon Dunes, let me know. I’m not sure if this would be profitable at this point, but with the explosion in bicycle related activities, plus other recreational travel, I think it very well could be. Also, small townspeople need some other travel options. There are many reasons why someone might not want to drive from rural Oregon to another rural destination or to a larger city.

    It would probably be less subsidized than our SeaPort airline, ( and I don’t know if they allow much luggage.) Besides I didn’t mean another franchise of Megabus–just using them as a starting reference.

  8. Well, if you can find AMTRAK or an airline to take you and camping gear and bicycles from Portland to the Oregon Dunes, let me know.

    I’d think it would be easier to find a group of people either in person or online who’d want to make this trip than to have regularly scheduled service there anyway. If you start adding in bikes and camping gear, that’s a lot different than Megabus which serves urban centers and airports. They don’t seem to serve recreational areas at all.

    Of course, you might not be able to get to the exact spot you want in the state without a car, but I’ve just been going through the routes that Greyhound offers around Oregon and there seems to be a lot of options. The baggage info page makes it sound like you could take a bike and camping gear, you just may have to pay extra to do so. I know my friend has taken his bike on Greyhound before, he just needed to securely box it first. It might not be the most convenient way to get somewhere to go camping, I’m just can’t imagine there’d be the demand to justify scheduled service.

    I’m sure you could find a way to charter something on demand, but it seems it would be easiest and probably cheapest to just find someone who wants to go and has a car.

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