Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Megabus Alternative to Amtrak and High-Speed Rail

NEW YORK (WALA) - "Megabus.com , the first city-to-city, express bus service offering fares from $1, announced it is offering 200,000 free seats for travel Jan. 4 to March 1, 2012. Customers can begin booking their free seats now."

MP: This year's Megabus promotion offering 200,000 free seats follows last year's promotion that also gave away 200,000 free seats, which was double the 100,000 seats given away two years ago for Megabus' first "free seat" promotion.  That brings the total number of free seats on Megabus to 500,000 over the last three years.  And even when it's now giving away free seats, Megabus offers fares starting at $1 on a year round basis, making it the cheapest way to travel.  A quick check of the Megabus website shows $9 fares for travel between Washington, D.C. and NYC next week. If you book a trip on Amtrak from Washington, D.C. to NYC on the same day, it'll cost you $80 for regular service and $142 for the Acela Express, and that's one-way. And it's probably safe to say that Amtrak has never given away any free tickets. 

Megabus is a great example of a competitive, flexible, low-cost (sometimes free), consumer-driven, market-based solution to inter-city transportation that has thrived without any government subsidies, tax breaks or taxpayer funding.  Contrast that alternative to government transportation options like Amtrak and high-speed rail proposals that are the opposite: non-competitive, inflexible, high-cost, politician-driven, and not market-based, requiring massive amounts of taxpayer funding and subsidies.   

32 Comments:

At 12/06/2011 2:59 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Megabus is great as long as you're not over six foot tall and over a hundred and fifty pounds...

 
At 12/06/2011 3:06 PM, Blogger Che is dead said...

The purpose of government transportation programs is not to provide a public service, it is to provide a massive government subsidy to the public employee unions. We - the taxpayers - build it, they - the unions - capture and control it. The upside for the Democrats is that these union members have their dues automatically withheld/taken from their checks and transferred via their unions political arm to the Democrat Party.

 
At 12/06/2011 3:08 PM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

If the seats are only $9 (and reserved), couldn't you buy two next to each other and double your space for only $18?

 
At 12/06/2011 3:17 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"If the seats are only $9 (and reserved), couldn't you buy two next to each other and double your space for only $18?"...

Well two problems with that...

First: one has to be in the que early enough to get two seats together...

Second: One would have to sit at an odd angle since the seat in front of you is so close...

Might work for a short hop of 90 minutes or less but I wouldn't want to try for more than that...

 
At 12/06/2011 4:52 PM, Blogger Gale L. Pooley said...

We need a megabus alternative for the Postal service.

 
At 12/06/2011 5:02 PM, Blogger AIG said...

Its amazing what the market can do, and how incapable state apparatchiks are at understanding how competition benefits consumers.

A while back I was working with this bright-eyed Leftist, and we got into a discussion on capitalism. I was working in a field where I was probably the only free-market person around...so it was a novelty for them. And he said to me in a gotcha kind of way, "so you think we should privatize EVEN public transportation?!?!" I had a good laugh at that one.

 
At 12/06/2011 5:04 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

Megabus is great as long as you're not over six foot tall and over a hundred and fifty pounds...

================================

But that goes for most airlines, too.

 
At 12/06/2011 5:06 PM, Blogger AIG said...

"We need a megabus alternative for the Postal service."

We need to tell the Republicans in Congress that if they want to pass legislation to "save" mail service, they should pass legislation legalizing competition with USPS (or is it repeal old legislation blocking competition?).

I wouldn't be surprised if THEY would do it.

But of course, paper delivery is a dead area. Parcel delivery already has better alternatives. So all USPS has left is annoying coupons that end up clogging garbage cans.

Technology has already killed the USPS.

 
At 12/06/2011 5:08 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Amtrak is like the US military but a little better.

Everything is subsidized, or completely paid for by taxpayers, and no one counts the pennies.

Amtrak does have to get paying customers, so it only costs five times as much as it should.

The federalized military costs 10 times as much as it should, as it has no paying customers at all.

 
At 12/06/2011 6:34 PM, Blogger Stephen said...

The roads which these buses travel on are paid for almost exclusively by government. Hence they are also government subsidized.

 
At 12/06/2011 7:39 PM, Blogger james said...

Second what Stephen said. I'm sure Megabus is great, but they are also reliant and public spending to operate.

 
At 12/06/2011 8:17 PM, Blogger Craig said...

The roads which these buses travel on are paid for almost exclusively by government. Hence they are also government subsidized.

The roads are paid for "almost exclusively" by the gasoline taxes paid by the same automobile, bus and truck owners who use them. That's not a subsidy.

 
At 12/06/2011 11:09 PM, Blogger Michael E. Marotta said...

And even when it's now giving away free seats ... Amtrak has never given away any free tickets.
That is an enduring theme worthy of deep exploration: market entities (businesses) do give free goods and services, but public entities (government agencies) do not. For example, you can go to any supermarket on a Saturday morning and forage the samples ladies. However, there is no time when you goto the Family and Children office and get service without paperwork.

 
At 12/06/2011 11:13 PM, Blogger james said...

The roads are paid for "almost exclusively" by the gasoline taxes paid by the same automobile, bus and truck owners who use them. That's not a subsidy.

Private bus companies have a subsidized gas tax rate.

 
At 12/06/2011 11:18 PM, Blogger Michael E. Marotta said...

juandos said: "Megabus is great as long as you're not over six foot tall and over a hundred and fifty pounds..."

Gratefully, then, there is Amtrak.

Myself, being 5'7" and 135 lbs, I am happy. Should there be a tax on normal people to subsidize Big People? or are some other solutions suggestable? Perhaps there is an untapped market here in transportation for gargantuans if not for pantagruels? Hopefully, they do not have a lobby...

 
At 12/06/2011 11:20 PM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

And I guess you could say the same about flying? I think the seats and legroom on Megabus might be bigger than a coach seat on most airplanes?

 
At 12/06/2011 11:27 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Should there be a tax on normal people to subsidize Big People?"...

Yeah michael, I could go for that! That's the ticket...:-)

No it should be up to me to figure it out...

That's why I like Amtrak...

 
At 12/06/2011 11:40 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 12/06/2011 11:51 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...


If the seats are only $9 (and reserved), couldn't you buy two next to each other and double your space for only $18?

That won't solve the forward space issue(which is so even for regularly sized people).


We need a megabus alternative for the Postal service.

More expensive service, and you have to gamble at what your postage will be, where they offer a unattainable but highly promoted rate?

The USPS comes in under cost compared to the others that want to see USPS dead - and would not mind using the pension front-load as the murder weapon.

Kill the pension requirement first. Get rid of that, put the money back with the USPS, and they would be profitable. Then again, it would mean that the USPS survives without needing any ill-thought privatization.

If anything, privatization needs to be made unconstitutional. It is only a cheap way to loot well-working programs that only appear insolvent by means of politics.


Its amazing what the market can do,

Provide inferior products and kill superior quality products per dollar? Megabus fits this profile completely.

 
At 12/07/2011 1:07 PM, Blogger Charles Platt said...

I saw a Megabus discharging passengers in NYC. I took a thorough look and saw a great deal of creative thought in design and execution. That is one super-smart vehicle. It takes the old British double-decker design and civilizes it. Sure, they pack in the maximum number of passengers, and the seats are no wider than--well, traditional bus seats. But the whole idea of the thing is to be CHEAP. With WiFi, yet! Mission accomplished. Some people had a bunch of better ideas, and they are making money out of them. Isn't that what it's all about? If government-run services could do the same thing, I would support government-run services; but, they don't. This is a matter of practicality, not ideology.

 
At 12/07/2011 1:19 PM, Blogger Seth said...

"Its amazing what the market can do, and how incapable state apparatchiks are at understanding how competition benefits consumers." -AIG

For specific examples, see sethstorm's comments.

 
At 12/07/2011 1:35 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"For specific examples, see sethstorm's comments"...

Comments that have little to do with reality...

 
At 12/07/2011 1:47 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...


Charles Platt said...
Seth said...


Cheapness means that quality gets cut, unlike the government-backed solution which operates as a high quality service.

 
At 12/07/2011 1:48 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 12/07/2011 4:14 PM, Blogger Seth said...

sethstorm -

It all depends on your definition of quality.

The mistake you repeatedly make is that your definition of quality is the only one.

If folks valued the quality you see in government-backed solutions, these solutions would not need to be government-backed, by definition.

 
At 12/08/2011 1:08 AM, Blogger Richard Rider, Chair, San Diego Tax Fighters said...

The gas and diesel tax paid by vehicle owners is MORE than enough to pay for the highways. Indeed, a good portion of such funds are funneled off into expensive and inefficient mass transit, or even into the gaping maw of the general fund.

I think I posted up here earlier the per passenger mile subsidy for various modes of transportation. Cars owners pay their full way via gas taxes. Same for intercity (but not local government) buses. Rail subsidies paid from the general fund come to about 20 cents per passenger mile -- a HUGE subsidy.

 
At 12/08/2011 1:27 AM, Blogger Richard Rider, Chair, San Diego Tax Fighters said...

sethstorm --

REALLY? AMTRAK is "high quality (government subsidized) service"??? REALLY????

Just like the DMV's high quality service, perhaps.

 
At 12/08/2011 11:29 AM, Blogger Carleton said...

Megabus for the most part stops at the curb on public streets, not using bus terminals like the Port Authority. Their business model does not involve paying terminal costs which is how they can undercut regular operators like Greyhound. In many cases they state that they stop near a terminal such as Penn Station, implying that their passengers can use the restrooms and other features of that terminal - but without Megabus having to pay their share for that use. So their fares are based on not having those costs; they simply use facilities such as the street that are paid for out of public funds. In a number of cases they have been made to move from the vicinity of the terminal because of this and now the passengers stand in a bedraggled lot in the cold and the rain, with no shelter or cover, to wait for the bus. So please do not say this is a model of the unfettered "free market" - they are indeed using public facilities.

 
At 12/12/2011 8:19 AM, Blogger tommy said...

I have to disagree. If there were no government gas subsidies, then fuel would cost more for consumers -- including bus companies. The cost of driving your car or taking a bus would then be more competitive with Amtrak.

 
At 12/12/2011 1:42 PM, Blogger Henning Schulzrinne said...

I commute regularly to DC. The buses are certainly much cheaper, but they can take 5 hours (train is 3), with much higher traffic-induced variance. There are well-run "governmental" (public) train systems outside the US that, on long distances, are self-supporting. Just Amtrak isn't one of them. Very few people get the $1 fare - $20 from NY to DC is much more typical, unless you're really flexible on time and date.

 
At 12/13/2011 12:01 PM, Blogger Bureaucranky said...

Megabus opened up service from Christiansburg VA to DC, non-stop. For those of us in a rural area, having cheap access to travel to the city (where you can grab public transport to the airport, or another MB to another city) has been a godsend. Don't know how they stay in business with fares that cheap, but who cares? It's interesting, their "station" here is just a wooden sign post at the edge of a commuter parking lot. Simple, but it works. Sometimes you don't have to over think something to find a solution.

 
At 12/13/2011 1:04 PM, Blogger Howard said...

I'm amazed at how credulous free-market worshipers are. Who says there's no such thing as a free lunch? Here's a company offering free tickets! And their other ticket prices "start at" $1! Obviously the only reason Amtrak doesn't charge $1 is public-employee unions!

As for the Postal Service, remember Howard's Law (mine):The problem with bureaucracy isn't bureaucrats. The problem with bureaucracy is politicians. Politicians (especially Republicans) love to posture about bureaucrats, but they're the ones who decide what post offices close, whether there will be Saturday delivery, etc.

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home