A couple of months back I mentioned my trip from LA to SF to visit my sis using Megabus — you can find my full post on it here — and as I said at the time, while there were a couple of problems on the trip, overall my experience was positive and I was considering future trips up north when possible.
Alas, as this story from a little over a week back indicates, after another month’s time that won’t be possible:
Bargain bus service Megabus, which touted fares as low as $1, said Friday that it would pull out of Los Angeles because of low ridership.
The decision to shut down the hub, which was expected, came less than a year after Megabus began service from Los Angeles to cities including San Francisco and Las Vegas.
“Our approach has been to go into different markets and give it a shot and see how they’ll develop,” said Megabus President Dale Moser. “If they develop quickly, we’ll certainly sustain it. But in this case, the ridership trends aren’t growing enough.”
Megabus, a subsidiary of Coach USA, will end its service from Los Angeles to San Francisco and Oakland after June 22, and from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, San Jose and Millbrae, Calif., a few weeks earlier, Moser said.
I’m actually almost tempted to make one more trip up and back but my schedule over the next few weeks is verging on the hyperpacked, building up to my Midwest/East Coast trip for the latter half of June, so that won’t be possible.
In any event, it’s a real pity the service didn’t get further traction here — as the story indicates, it’s taken off in the Midwest in particular, so it’s not like there won’t be a market in general, and personally I’d’ve thought in an era of ever-increasing gas prices that Megabus would be in a prime position. In fact, given everything from those increasing prices to the word about new fees and restrictions in plane service, arguably they could have been in total pole position for summer travel, especially between the Bay Area and SoCal, and the fact that the company isn’t ruling out a future return is a good thing.
But it’s true that the advertising they made didn’t seem to be increasing recognition much — nearly everyone I talked to down here about it had never heard of it, for instance, and everyone was all deeply interested in it. Seemed like a classic word-of-mouth situation to build on, but maybe markets needed to be targeted more effectively — for instance, I would have done something over at UCI if I’d worked for them, noting how you could catch a Metrolink ride up to Union Station and then get the Megabus from there easily enough. College-age folks were clearly a primary market for this kind of thing, based on my ride up, but I don’t remember seeing anything for the company around here over these past few months.
Anyway, what’s done is done, and crossed fingers something happens along those lines in the near future for such service, or that they return and build up from the ground floor more effectively this time. Glad I had the opportunity to try it the once, at least!