Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weighing in on Megabus from Nashville to Atlanta versus rail

Megabus by Guest Blogger Dave 

Megabus coach bus on I-81
Although it is not the ideal form of travel for most Americans, it is very popular in the UK and all over Europe. I have used several of the bus services all over the UK, and they have one advantage to the way Megabus will operate here. For the most part, the cites and town have gone ahead and joined in with these coach/bus services and provided either a permanent loading area with some form of shelter, or as in London ( where I am originally from) they operate out of places like Victoria Coach Station, along with National Express buses.

We ( I ) am eagerly waiting for the startup of Megabus here in Nashville...One of the boarding points is downtown by the Titan Football stadium at a hotel, so I am going to find out today, if there is some form of parking down there for the riders. I emailed Mr Moser at Megabus, and told him that a passenger is going to think twice when ordering a ticket and hoping to get a good discount of under $10 for booking early, when they suddenly find out that they will have no parking for their cars ( free )  and have to may 25X the cost of he ticket for a cab etc..

The other stop is on 5th and Commerce.Once again, how do people get there?   I would rather have seen them use the parking area next to the Music City Central bus terminal on 5th . That way, people would have a least the option of a MTA bus. For me it wold have been just like being back home in London, when I used public transit every day. I could drive from the house ( Gallatin ) park at Sam's-Walmart's at Rivergate, ride the BRT to the MCC, then grab a sandwich and a cup of coffee at the Dunkin Donuts shop in the MCC wait in the dry and warmth and then step out the door on to the bus for Atlanta..

As the " Powers that be " here in the mid state, have focused their minds on keeping Nashville-Mid TN etc several decades behind the known world out there, with respect to  passenger rail, and it looks like they will manage to keep it that way for at least another 25-30 years or more, then Megabus and companies like this are going to jump in and fill the gap.

Sadly it takes a guy ( Sir Brian Souter )  who was a former bus conductor back in Scotland when he was a young man,and who is now a Billionaire, and owns East Coast Trains-Stagecoach and First Trains in the UK, Now also owns Grayhound Bus Lines over here,plus all of the shuttles you ride at most airports in the US, plus owns many of the yellow school buses here and in Canada, to get what the public need. He saw an opportunity and took it. Make money and provide a service that is needed for the good of the public. A no brainer. Why couldn't it have been a American?

It's not like we don't have the smarts in the USA, after all, it was an American that got the London Underground ( Tube ) train up and running with his investments back then. It is like we have lost our way here, and the " foreigners " are now showing us the way.

My wife and I ride Amtrak a lot. The negative side to it, is the proximity of the station. Atlanta and Memphis, both 200+ miles away. Until Nashville's leaders and the State, get serious and bring back Amtrak connecting us to Chicago in one direction and Atlanta in the other, then Megabus is the answer. If my predictions are correct, that Amtrak will not be here for at least another 30 years or so,and if this Megabus system works well and expands to Birmingham-St Louis-Chicago-Memphis from Nashville, then Megabus will have a great 30+ year run of service here, and middle TN will reap the benefits of a comfortable,cheap bus transit to enable us to connect with Amtrak and to use their massive system for travel in the US.

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