Megabus vs National Express

Discussion in 'Buses & Coaches' started by jednick, 10 Mar 2018.

  1. jednick

    jednick Member

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    I use Megabus fairly frequently, because they offer unbeatable prices. I've done Birmingham-Leeds, London-Swansea, Glasgow-Birmingham, Leeds-Glasgow and other routes.

    I've used National Express just the once, years ago, from Skegness to Spalding, I think it was.

    I had a look today and, surprisingly, I foung some of the overnight fares from London to Scotland are roughly the same price as Megabus.

    So, I understand that Megabus generally are cheaper, but apart from price, what are the other differeces between Megabus and National Express?

    National Express would certainly offer many more routes.

    But how do they compare against each other regarding speed of journey, reliability, quality of coaches, comfort, politeness of drivers and and their attitude when things go wrong?
     
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  3. johnw

    johnw Member

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    In terms of vehicles, Stagecoach order better vehicles than those awful Caetano bodied coaches but are let down by their basic garish ‘beachball’ interiors.
     
  4. alex397

    alex397 Member

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    If I had a choice between National Express and Megabus, I would choose the latter. I have generally found Megabus to be more comfortable and cheaper. Its been a few years since i've used Megabus though (although depends if you would count the Oxford Tube which I went on last month - very impressive).

    It also seems National Express use the main bus and coach stations. Megabus try and use stops outside of bus/coach stations, or in the outskirts of cities, to avoid station charges. Is this still the case today?

    Funnily enough, my local National Express routes (the 007/022 from Kent to London) were operated by Stagecoach East Kent! They had some lovely Volvos with Plaxton bodies - they were very comfortable. The routes have since passed to King's Ferry (a company owned by NX), and they are using those awful Caetano vehicles - wherever you sit, you can smell the toilet. Its quite nauseating. East Kent losing those routes ended 90 years of the company (including the time before it was Stagecoach-owned) operating coaches. If you look at the Megabus routes, there are none in Kent. I am lead to believe it was because of Stagecoach operating National Express routes that there are no Megabus routes. However, since Stagecoach no longer operate them, I wonder if there is scope for Megabus in Kent? There are thousands of students in Canterbury, who mostly use the expensive High Speed trains (the non-High Speed trains to London are not much cheaper). And quite a few use the National Express, which is well operated, but takes an absolute age, and can often be fairly expensive.
     
  5. Temple Meads

    Temple Meads Established Member

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    I don't think it's as clear cut as that... The standard issue Megabus coach is the Plaxton Elite i 'interdeck', the build quality isn't particularly good, while the recent Caetano Levantes seem to be of a much higher quality than the awful early efforts. On the other hand the Van Hools on the Megabus network are extremely high quality, and I prefer the seats to the interdeck and NX offerings.

    ___

    Speed of journey? Megabus usually quicker, but you have to factor in the out of town stops in some places. Another factor is that there are no scheduled comfort breaks on any Megabus routes, unlike long distance NX services.

    Reliability? Very much down to circumstances on the day! I have had longer delays on Megabus services, but NX can suffer just the same.

    Quality of coaches? I think I've covered that above - for me it's a win on points for the better interior ambience on NX, definitely a personal preference thing though.

    Politeness of drivers? The usual mixed bag of PSV drivers, some fantastic, some who just get on with the job, and some who leave a lot to be desired. Another draw.

    Although they don't shout about it, Megabus have a 24hr control centre in Glasgow which the general public can call - very useful when your coach is a no-show. Though NX have a great Coach Tracker app, something Mega could seriously do with emulating.
     
  6. route101

    route101 Established Member

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    National Express have a network to speak of. Ive used both to London overnight and i prefer upstairs on the van hools . Picked up a megabus leaflet which showed megabus route map , they offer megabus tickets on routes like Aberdeen to Inverness . The vanhools tend to operate the west coast via Manchester London services and the interdecks down the east coast via Edinburgh ,Newcastle
     
  7. extendedpaul

    extendedpaul Member

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    Megabus still sells the first seat on most services for £1 and I have an ongoing quest to secure it for my frequent journeys. I'm lucky that my circumstances allow me to be very flexible on days and times of travel. A quick check back on my account and diaries reveals that I paid £1 or £0 (2017 free fare promotion, not offered this year unfortunately) for 92 of my last 100 trips including 10 by train. I also favour Megabus because their booking system allows multiple journeys to be purchased at one time, with one payment and one 50p booking fee, whereas National Express require a separate booking and a £1 fee for each single or return journey.

    I prefer the Megabus vehicles and seats to National Express as I find leather seats uncomfortable for some reason but I would not use them for a journey of more than 4-5 hours because of the lack of comfort stops. The cross country routes and southbound services from Leicester and Birmingham are particularly prone to delays, the M4 corridor is generally the most punctual.

    Incidentally Megabus has recently announced that their London to Norwich services are operating to and from Stratford only, beginning on Monday 7 May. Passengers will have to make their own way at their own expense to or from Victoria Coach station or Central London. Twitter comments have not been favourable.
     
    Last edited: 11 Mar 2018
  8. route101

    route101 Established Member

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    I once got a Megabus sleeper ticket for a quid , was the bendi bus sleeper. Been a while since a done an overnighter .
     
  9. Jordeh

    Jordeh Member

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    I just wish they'd do that with their other routes. The traffic around Victoria is often horrendous and it can take an hour just to get out of Zone 1. Also, I don't think many people actually go to Victoria as a final destination and it's not amazingly well connected. I would much prefer it if they dropped me around Finchley Road as I find that's well connected and the traffic around there isn't as bad.

    Back to the thread, always Megabus as it's usually cheaper, quicker and more reliable than National Express.
     
  10. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    Given the choice between Megabus or Nat Ex, I’d stay at home....
     
  11. Buggleskelly

    Buggleskelly Member

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    Haven't used Megabus for a while now, not since a bad experience on one of their double decked sleeper services from Edinburgh to London. Megabus Gold I think it was, cramped bunks on both decks with virtually no room to move around. No more night services with them anymore I'm afraid. Decided to go with a much better experience with National Express on my overnight trips to and from Scotland from now on. NX in my opinion is still the best when it comes to long journeys like that; vehicles in good working order, nice legroom, comfortable seats, decent staff, scheduled rest break, affordable price, etc.
     
  12. overthewater

    overthewater Established Member

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    I've tried Nat express a couple of time on the Cross boundary routes. One time it was Extra summer dup and it was operated by a Bruice coaches, not half bad it was a bova coach mind. Another time it was the main 591, it had leather seats and it just meh. You get what you get on Megabus, I just feel more trusted on it, ( It was the Edinburgh side) I have tried the Glasgow side I somewhat understand why some people dont like it....
     
  13. Mwanesh

    Mwanesh Member

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    Multiple stops in an area cause grief for drivers.I find the Megabus model better.In Bristol they serve UWE campus you get there some people say driver we are getting off here can we have luggage .If you have piled the bags you have to offload then load them back.On the 040 drivers ask Earls Court or Victoria then when no one says Earls Court cue shouting from customers you missed my stop but all tickets say Victiria
     
  14. route101

    route101 Established Member

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    The Glasgow side has the vanhools . Ok if it isent rammed .
     
  15. overthewater

    overthewater Established Member

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    I wish I got a Vanhools, but I was shafted on to the Dup coach along with all the other London bound passsengers. Coach in question was a Jonckheere, that thing could shake!
     
  16. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Sadly those don't run any more, but while they weren't exactly spacious I got a decent night's kip on the London to Glasgow one when I tried it, and I am not at all a small person. Better in fact than the Sleeper on the way back, as I find it much better to sleep aligned to the direction of travel than perpendicular to it (as I find the blood goes to my head on cornering otherwise). The best night's sleep I have ever had on a train was a DB Talgo "Kajueteliegewagen" couchette coach laid out like that.

    I can't sleep in a seat (have to be lying down) so any other kind of overnight coach is out.
     
  17. richw

    richw Established Member

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    I’m not keen on leather, I find it makes me sweat, so I’d choose megabus for a more comfortable journey.
    Megabus also seem to have quicker journey times. No breaks normally though, unlike NatEx. I believe this is because they swap drivers at various locations near stagecoach depots, whereas NatEx use the same driver throughout so need legal rest breaks
     
  18. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I think there will be mixed views on breaks. Being tall and broad I'd prefer to have them, but someone more comfortable in a coach seat probably wouldn't.
     
  19. route101

    route101 Established Member

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    Not a fan of the leather too , sticky in the summer.
     
  20. Temple Meads

    Temple Meads Established Member

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    Thanks for your useful input. ;) :D

    Yes in a lot of cases, though there are examples of long routes which have multiple driver changes (some of the Parks of Hamilton operations are an example) so no need for legal driver breaks, but they still have a 20 or 30 minute scheduled comfort break.
     
  21. extendedpaul

    extendedpaul Member

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    Do you know which Megabus services have scheduled comfort breaks ? When the question is asked on Twitter the reply is always that there are none ! I've known stops at Motorway services due to early running or no on-board toilet facilities, plus occasionally when there is a driver change over or early arrival at a pick-up point passengers are invited to leave the vehicle for a few minutes, but those aren't in the schedule.

    As an aside, most of the time Megabus drivers say nothing, even when there is a delay, and some don't even make the safety/toilet/no smoking or alcohol announcement on departure. Communication with passengers on National Express seems more of a priority.
     
  22. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Nor me. What I do think works well is a leather headrest, accumulates less muck from greasy hair. It also looks quite classy coupled with a dark-coloured moquette.
     
  23. Temple Meads

    Temple Meads Established Member

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    Sorry I worded that last post poorly, I was referring to Nat Ex - there are indeed no Megabus services with scheduled breaks.
     
  24. radamfi

    radamfi Established Member

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    The timetables here show the refreshment stops:

    https://www.nxagents.com/theguide/
     
  25. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Hear, hear.

    I still have fond memories of Megabus using a bus-seated Coastliner Volvo Olympian decker on a Leicester - London run from the earlier days (2003 I think it was). Very impressive journey in the front seat on the top deck.

    The last time I used a NatEx service must have been the Vomit Express from Nottingham back to Leicester at 5am on a Sunday morning back in around 2009 on an airport run. Very popular with ravers and not so peaceful for the good folks heading away for their week in the sun.

    I probably wouldn't mind if First's Greyhound UK service still ran, as one of the few good things I can think of that First did.
     
  26. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    To be honest I’m not qualified to comment. I have never caught a scheduled coach service in this country, and never will.
     
  27. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

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    Any particular reason?

    I've caught two NX coaches this week - 0100 from Leicester to Leeds (240) and 0400 from Sheffield to Leeds (465). Very useful at times when there's a lack of trains. The trip from Leicester cost me £9. To do it by train I'd have had to leave by about 1800, so unable to read my niece her bedtime story or if I'd caught the first morning train I'd have paid £60+ and been late.

    My favourite tends to vary by route - Megabus I tend not to use to/from Leicester as they only call at Leicester Forest East - but they can be much better value on some overnight services between Yorkshire and London. Last month I visited Birmingham for a couple of days, using Megabus out and National Express return. Had a slightly nutty driver on the Megabus duplicate.

    Many years ago I found it very useful how many smaller places were served by National Express. Unfortunately they tend to be very expensively priced, so it's either better to split tickets or use local buses or trains from their major stops (and often quicker).

    When megabus used to use poorer vehicles I used to book National Express on parallel routes as they did some very competitive fares - the best I did was £2 return London-Leeds to see a band.
     
  28. Shell

    Shell Member

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    I've only ever taken National Express when there's no Megabus service to where I'm going at the time I need to be there, and no cheap train tickets. They do some weird and whacky routes at some very odd times, but unlike Megabus, their booking system is more than happy to put you on a series of buses - so you can get from Aberdeen to Derby overnight via Birmingham (iirc), all on one ticket so you're not stuck if your first bus was delayed. Aberdeen to London is much nicer with a services stop, too. They also used to hand out vouchers for discounts when they stopped at some services, don't know if they do that any more.
     
  29. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    1) uncomfortable seats (would much prefer a 700 or an A319)
    2) lack of leg room (I’m 6’ 4”)
    3) travel sickness much more likely for me
    4) can’t easily get up to move around if required
    5) I don’t live anywhere near a coach stop, let alone a coach station, I do live near 2 stations
    6) Journey times are generally much longer
    7) more than happy to pay more for the train, although...

    8) ... I get free rail travel.

    To be completely straight though, even in the student days when I had no money and lived within walking distance to a coach station and didn’t get free rail travel, I did not entertain the possibility of using a scheduled coach. I would always be happy to pay more for the train, and did, even if it meant not doing something else. (This is before dirt cheap advance fares became available for rail journeys).
     
  30. MotCO

    MotCO Member

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    Can you get split tickets on NX or Megabus, or are you referring to trains?
     
  31. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

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    You can split tickets on NX - but you might have to get off and then on again (and give the driver your case again). I've never seen it to be cheaper to split on Megabus except on some through tickets onto local bus services.
     

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