Cover Story: Q.C. to D.C. for $1.00?

By Jeff Atkinson - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Megabus is coming to Charlotte.

It sounds like one of the Transformers.  It looks like a British double-decker on steroids.  And you can hitch a ride to the nation's capital for as low as a buck.

There's a new way to get from the Q-C to D.C. on the cheap.

We're talking about getting from Charlotte to the nation's capital for as little as a buck - by bus.  But this is no ordinary bus. It's Megabus. Cool name, huh?

And it's sorta like Greyhound meets a British double-decker meets Southwest Airlines. And it's attracting a new caliber of bus rider.

It's a name you probably never heard before.

But what they've done in the last four years starting in the midwest and then in the northeast is literally transform peoples traveling habits.  Getting Americans to do what no one else has been able to do - get people out of their cars.

"It's been a delightful story quite frankly. We've been extremely happy with how this has been received.. the demand for it.. the requests for it. We're real happy," says Dale Moser, President of Megabus.

Simple concept actually.  Take a double-decker bus (a deference to its British parent company) and pick a major city like a Washington and run an express route to other destination cities.

Sell tickets only on line, it's cheaper that way.  And do it on the extreme cheap - start seats at a buck.

"This isn't a promo. Every bus. Every trip within our whole network throughout the whole of North America has some number of one dollar seats on it," says Moser.

Seats are priced higher during peak hours and the closer you get to your day of travel.

But Megabus guarantees the price will always be cheaper than driving, flying or taking the train or another bus.

Megabus, which serves 50 cities in the US and Canada, announced starting next month it will be operations between Charlotte and Washington, DC - stopping only in Raleigh-Durham and Richmond, Virginia.  Peak price tops out no higher than the high $40s.

Buses will leave from outside the Charlotte Transportation Center in Center City.  There are no bus stations to build (which is one way it saves money.)

CATS Chief Operations Planning Officer Larry Kopf sees it as a win-win.

"I think it could be mutually beneficial, and that they will generate ridership for us and we perhaps might generate ridership for them," says Kopf.

The city expects we'll get traffic from D.C. - people who want to see the Q.C.

"Anything that will bring visitors into Charlotte is a really great thing especially into the Center City. We've worked very hard to create destination assets in our Center City," says Moira Quinn of Charlotte Center City Partners.

Megabus says it's getting people out of their cars.  Sixty-five percent of their customers say they would have driven.  The economy is working for Megabus.  Because of the recession the company says people are looking for value, which benefits Megabus.

The company says 97-percent of their riders say they would take the bus again.

Megabus says Charlotte ranked high on a list of cities its customers wanted to go.

Service to Raleigh, Richmond and Washington, DC begins December 15th.

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