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  June 2014
Megabus : 2003-2013


Megabus was formed in 2003 as a cheap alternative to National Express.   Similar to low cost airlines it introduced the yield management business model to coach travel - the earlier passengers booked, the cheaper the fare.   Owned by Stagecoach, which had started life operating express services, it appeared to be a speculative venture by its chairman Brian Souter who is clearly partial to running coach routes.   However it has gone from strength to strength and celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2013.   It all started in Oxford with a service to London using former Hong Kong tri-axle Olympians (lower left).  Remaining true to its roots, the next project was in Scotland where a Glasgow to Edinburgh service was started to compete with Citylink (top right).   Soon other new routes from London sprang up such as Southampton (middle right), Brighton/Worthing (top centre) and Plymouth (top left).   Innovation is never far from Stagecoach's thoughts so it made perfect sense to cascade artics from Western onto the Megabus route from London to Glasgow via Manchester (top right).   Continuing its expansion in Scotland, Megabus next bought the Glasgow to Edinburgh Motorvator business from Bruce of Airdrie which soon found a home for former Oxford Tube MAN double deckers (lower middle).   A further break from tradition was to establish a connection facility at Perth Park & Ride (top right) rather than use the conventional bus station.   This allowed quick and easy transfer of passengers near the main road network and introduced the so-called Scottish Saltire services (Glasgow / Edinburgh - Aberdeen / Inverness).   However this rapid expansion of routes had its downside as the former Hong Kong vehicles often failed leading to improvisation particularly using red London buses (lower right).   A brave new world of new buses awaited.


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  Megabus bought its first new vehicles in 2005 in the shape of 25 Neoplans (top left) which replaced the  former Hong Kong vehicles.   Confident of its future, Megabus introduced routes that didn't serve London, such as Liverpool to Leeds (lower left) and Portsmouth to Leeds (centre right).   Other service expansion was triggered by the loss of National Express contracts by Stagecoach including the Cheltenham to London route (lower right).   Other new ventures saw Megabus entering the USA coach market, and offering seats on train services from the South Coast to London.   Buoyed by this success Megabusplus was born - a network of coach services from Yorkshre that connect with the East Midland train service to London (top right).   Perhaps the most revolutionary idea was using sleeper artics on the overnight service from London to Glasgow (centre left).     Brian Souter got his first taste of Europe when he bought Polski Bus in Poland in 2011.   Sufficiently  enthused by this, Megabus put its toe in the European waters (or under the tunnel to be more precise) in 2012 when routes were started from London to Amsterdam and Paris using a fleet of new Plaxton/Volvos based in Rugby (top left and right).   More noteworthy was that these vehicles were used on a triangular schedule, also operating from Paris to Amsterdam via Brussels.   The success of this operation merited a larger investment with a batch of left hand drive Van Hool half-deckers being bought.  These start and finish in Birmingham and Liverpool (middle right) and serve the additional destination of Koln in Germany.   Crew change over is at the Hotel Campanile in Ghent (centre left) where the drivers have a sleep break.


Megabus Today

Megabus today is now a fully fledged coach operator offering regular departures from many locations throughout the UK.   To achieve this level of service, private operators now run under contract on several of routes, their vehicles being painted in Megabus colours (lower middle, lower right).   With increasing passenger numbers came larger and more impressive coaches beginning with tri-axle Plaxton Volvos (middle right), followed by several batches of Van Hool Astromega double deckers (top left, centre) and also recently some Plaxton Interdeck vehicles (lower left).   A novel solution to luggage on the Aberdeen to London service has been the use of trailers similar to those used by European operators (top right).   However the ultimate addition to the Megabus club has been Megabus Gold (top right).    This service provides overnight sleeper beds on Van Hool coaches From Scotland to London to replace the original artics.   The vehicles are then used on normal day routes from London in coach configuration.   Where will it all end ?   What does the next 10 years hold in store ?   Will Brian Souter ever retire ?


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  Photo Facts
  • 13636 (G128WGX), a former Hong Kong tri-axle Olympian, heading to London from Exeter on the M5 in September 2004
  • 13635 (H763KDY), another former Hong Olympian, at Worthing pier on service to London via Brighton in June 2005
  • 15249 (E866RCS), a former Western Alexander bodied Citybus, having arrived from Edinburgh at the original Glasgow terminus in Cathedral St in April 2004
  • 51061 (YSV730), a former Western Jonckheere/Volvo artic, in Manchester in August 2004 on the Glasgow to London service
  • 13649 (H607LNA), a tri-axle Olympian, at the Broxden Park & Ride interchange at Perth in August 2005
  • 52298 (N448XVA), a Plaxton/Volvo, in Southampton on service to London in May 2004
  • 13604 (331HWD), a tri-axle Olympian, arriving in Oxford from London on the first Megabus route in September 2003
  • 50066 (W66BBW), a former Oxford MAN double-decker, in Motorvator livery leaving Glasgow for Edinburgh in March 2005
  • 18255 (LX04FYZ), an Alexander/Dennis, deputising on a Megabus duty on the M4 in January 2005


  • 50143 (CN05FVW), a Neoplan double-decker, at Exeter coach station heading from Plymouth to London in June 2005
  • 53033 (YU04YBF), a Plaxton/Volvo, on a Megabusplus service to London leaving Hull for East Midlands Parkway in July 2013
  • 51062 (SJI1631), a Jonckheere/Volvo artic, at Victoria Coach Station on the sleeper bus night service from London to Glasgow in February 2012
  • 52647 (T667XTV), a Jonckheere/Volvo, at Winchester Park & Ride in November 2010 en route from Portsmouth to Bradford
  • 13617 (H445EGU), a tri-axle Olympian, at Sheffield Meadowhall on service from Liverpool to Leeds in March 2006
  • 52621 (S901CCD), a Jonckeere/Volvo, at Reading on the Cheltenham to London service in June 2009


  • 53642 (KX61GEU), a Plaxton/Volvo, in Parliament Square heading from London to Paris in February 2014
  • 53640 (KX61GEJ), a Plaxton/Volvo, taking an impromptu stop in Boulogne having come through the channel tunnel on its way from London to Paris in December 2013
  • 55009 (KX13HYZ), a Van Hool half-decker, at Hotel Campanile in Ghent, on service from London to Amsterdam in April 2014
  • 55009 (KX13HYZ), the same Van-Hool vehicle, leaving London while operating from Koln to Liverpool in January 2014
  • 55009 (KX13HYZ) [clip], having done driver change-over at Hotel Campanile in Ghent in April 2014
  • 55008 (KX13HYY) [rear], at Victoria Coach Station in January 2014 - note the writing on the offside is in Dutch and on the rear is German


  • 50234 (CN61FAJ), a Van Hool Astromega TD927, on the M4 on its way from London to Cardiff in January 2014
  • 50230 (SV59CGU), another Van Hool double-decker, leaving London on a foggy morning making for Aberdeen in December 2013
  • 50305 (SF13FMJ), an impressive Megabus Gold liveried Van Hool double-decker, on service from London to Cardiff in April 2014
  • 54021 (SP07CAU) [clip], a 15m Plaxton Panther bodied Volvo B12BT, at the Kinross interchange on the M90 in April 2009
  • 54015 (SV07ACZ), a Plaxton bodied Volvo when new, about to leave Newcastle-Upon-Tyne for London in August 2007
  • 50232 (SV10DDL), a Van Hool double-decker with luggage trailer, leaving Dundee on the London to Aberdeen service in September 2012
  • 54212 (YX63NGV), a Plaxton Interdeck/Volvo, at Victoria Coach Station in April 2014
  • YN08JBX, a Scania/Irizar of Freestones, leaving Victoria Coach Station for Norwich in January 2014
  • BX11GVU, a Plaxton/Volvo of Edinburgh Coach Lines, at the Ferrytoll Park & Ride in South Queensferry, on a service from Edinburgh to Aberdeen in September 2012





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