Megabuses are already a familiar sight in North America but Scottish based company Stagecoach, owner of Megabus, now has its eyes on a travel market much closer to home.
Megabuses will, from this week, be plying the London to Paris route offering long distance coach fares between the two capitals for as little as €1, reports Le Quotidien de Tourisme. Whilst Megabus has provided long distance coach services in the USA and Canada for some time, up until recently, the market for scheduled coach services in Europe was patchy.
In France, until recently, national train operator SNCF had a virtual monopoly on long distance routes. This made it difficult for coach operators to operate viable cross-channel services since most of the short English Channel ferry crossings from the UK met landfall at Calais in France.
Following the European Commission directing that long distance routes had to be opened up to competition, there has now been a liberalisation of long distance coach services in France.
Stagecoach will do battle on the autoroutes and autobahns with rival long distance coach operator Eurolines. Eurolines were the first company to enter the market offering London to Paris fares on their coaches from €9. Now, the Scottish based Stagecoach, one of the biggest coach and bus operators in the UK, has announced the introduction of new European coach routes starting this week, which include new services to France, Holland and Belgium.
Stagecoach’s long distance coach line, Megabus.com will serve Paris and Boulogne in France, Brussels in Belgium and Amsterdam in Holland. The company is offering single journeys from just €1, a headline rate which undercuts the recently introduced Eurolines’ ‘Blue Riband’ London-Paris coach services by €8.
The new Megabus European coach services terminate at London’s Victoria coach station and the company are also offering inter-connecting long distance services within the UK serving Scotland, Wales and major English cities.
Stagecoach chief executive Sir Brian Souter said: “We launched megabus.com in Scotland nine years ago and it has already transformed intercity travel in the UK and North America. For too long, people in many parts of Europe have been paying too much for their coach travel. Our new network offers families, students and tourists great value fares and high-quality coaches. These services will deliver a long-overdue shake-up to the over-priced European coach travel market.”
Stagecoach also announced it is investigating the possibility of introducing a sleeper coach service between the UK and continental Europe. The company is working in partnership with Belgian coach manufacturer Van Hool on a sleeper coach fitted with 48 seats and tables for use during the daytime, which could be converted into 43 bunks on overnight services.