Megabus adds three new cities for Gainesville travelers looking to get away

Published: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at 11:05 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at 11:05 a.m.

Megabus express bus company will be adding three new cities to its service to and from Gainesville.

Starting May 15, the new routes will provide transit twice a day to Tallahassee, New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama. Gainesville service already is offered to Atlanta and Orlando.

The additions come from a mixed bag of factors, said Mike Alvich, the company's vice president of marketing and public relations. Those include a "healthy college community," area population growth, young professionals and businesspeople traveling under 500 miles, and a growing number of inbound customers to Gainesville.

Megabus is anticipating 95,000 incoming Gainesville travelers annually on the three new routes.

"We've made the best estimate that we can based on all the factors that we look at over the years," Alvich said on why the routes were chosen. "And we think that all the elements we usually use were present in these (three new) cities."

One-way fares start at $1, plus a $1.50 reservation fee, and go up as more seats on an upcoming trip are booked. For the three new routes, Megabus is offering all seats for $1 May 15-21.

The pickup and dropoff location is the parking lot across from the University of Florida's Southwest Recreation Center.

Among the travel amenities on the 81-seat buses — imported at $750,000 each from Brussels, Belgium — are free wireless Internet, free checked bag up to 50 pounds, power outlets and restrooms.

Alvich said Megabus uses a "yield management pricing tool" to determine ticket costs. All routes offer $1 pricing per one-way trip, plus a $1.50 reservation fee, but the trip may have as few as a single seat at that price.

After the $1 seats fill, the price goes up steadily with more bookings and also depends on the day of the week, the distance of the route, and if there are any upcoming holidays. A one-way trip to Atlanta from Gainesville on May 16, for example, costs $27, plus the reservation fee.

For the best prices, which are generally $1 to $9, Alvich recommends booking 30 to 45 days in advance and avoiding holidays and the non-peak days of Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday.

Scheduled routes are typically made 60 to 90 days in advance, he said, and the best way to find out when new ones have been posted are to follow Megabus on Facebook and Twitter.

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