Taking the Bus with National Express and Megabus UK
Coach Travel with Megabus and National Express in the United Kingdom
National Express and Megabus are the leading operators of bus and coach services throughout the United Kingdom, so they are the first port of call for many people wishing to travel within the country.
National Express offers the most comprehensive service in terms of coverage, serving over one thousand destinations across the UK, including most towns and cities, airports and tourist attractions as well as special services for one-off events such as festivals and sports events. In addition to their national coach services, they also run local bus services in the West Midlands, Coventry and Dundee under National Express West Midlands and train services c2c and National Express East Anglia. They are the UK partner for budget European coach service Eurolines and also operate in Spain and North America.
Megabus is a budget bus service which connects around fifty major cities in Scotland, Wales and England as well as the south of Ireland. Part of the Stagecoach Group, it also offers a combined coach and rail service between cities in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and London in conjunction with East Midland trains as well as operating in the US and Canada. StuckonScotland have a comprehensive Megabus UK and Scotland routes guide.
National Express fares vary according to the destination and date booked and the fares are usually much lower if you are able to book well in advance. In addition to competitive advance fares they also offer special low fares, called Funfare coach tickets, which are available on around 300 destinations and which can be found using the ‘Lowest Fare Finder’ on the official National Express website. Additional discounts are available of up to 30 percent for 16 – 26 year olds and up to 50 percent for over sixties. Fares are calculated by adding up each leg of the journey although it is often cheaper to book a return journey than to book two single tickets. There is an additional £0.50 booking fee as well as extra fees for mobile tickets, collecting from a National Express office or having your ticket posted to you. National Express also offers packaged fares which include the coach fare plus admission to an event such as music festivals, concerts and sporting events.
Megabus offer tickets from as little as £1 per journey plus booking fee, although these cheap tickets are strictly limited. If you want to take advantage of these cheapest tickets you usually have to book as soon as the £1 seats are made available on their booking system, but even if you miss out on the cheapest tickets then the fares are generally very competitive, especially if you are able to book well in advance. With some of the more popular routes it can be very difficult to get hold of the £1 tickets as they are snapped up instantly, but with some of the less popular routes you can find cheap tickets on certain days within a month or so of departure. There is also an additional £0.50 booking fee applicable to all reservations. There are also discounted fares available for holders of the National Union of Students Extra card but there are no discounts for senior citizens over the age of sixty apart from those who hold a card for free travel within Scotland.
National Express do not offer any drinks or snacks service on board although passengers are allowed to take their own on the coach, subject to certain conditions. There is an onboard toilet and the coaches do make refreshment and toilet stops on longer journeys such as overnight journeys or coach trips between Scotland and England.
Megabus coaches have toilets onboard, plus there is free Wi-Fi on selected routes, but there is no refreshment service on board. The coaches do make rest stops on the longer journeys.
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