Paul Herget and Joselle Benitez of San Francisco check their bags with Megabus driver Janette Taylor Monday afternoon, 12/2/13, at the Silver Legacy. Benetiz is appreciative of the service. 'I love it. It's clean and pretty fast. It's a nice view riding on top, ' she said.
More than 40 people huddled outside the Silver Legacy on Saturday afternoon waiting for the Megabus. Suitcases lined the sidewalk as holiday travelers waited to head home after their Thanksgiving visits.
The holiday weekend was another busy time for the express bus company that came to Reno a year ago and shuttles passengers from Northern Nevada to the San Francisco Bay Area on fares as low as $1. Tourism officials have lauded the service as another needed connection to bring tourists to the Biggest Little City from California.
Now, the company says it’s expecting business in Reno to continue to grow through 2014.
“The business in Reno has been building. We expect an overall 20 percent increase in consumers from last year,” said Mike Alvich, Megabus.com spokesman and marketing vice president. “In Reno it will be even more because the hub there is new.”
Megabus.com is known for its legroom, free Wi-Fi and cheap prices, depending on seat availability, Alvich said. There’s no need for bus stations because of the online-only booking system. Prices increase as more tickets are bought and with the holidays around the corner, a last minute one-way ticket is $49.
But prices are still 70 percent cheaper than airfare, Alvich said, adding that 50 percent of Megabus customers used to drive, but are now leaving their cars in their garage.
The company, a subsidiary of Coach USA, was founded in Scotland, gained popularity in Europe and later launched hubs in the United States in April 2006.
The double-decker bus began its route to Reno last year, soon after the company’s expansion to the West Coast in December 2012.
Today, the route includes stops in Sparks, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Oakland, Calif., Riverside, Calif., and Reno.
Christine Robinson came to Reno from San Francisco for Thanksgiving. Although she paid more than $100 for her ticket because of her last minute purchase, she still prefers Megabus for its look and its scheduling.
“I was invited to go dancing tonight when I get back to San Francisco and the schedule allows for dancing,” Robinson said with a smile.
For Maya Maher, a Megabus first-timer, the price was better than paying $300 to fly, she said. She paid $15 to Reno and $49 to get back to Sacramento.
“I came to stay and play at the Atlantis with friends. And they even treated me to a Thanksgiving dinner,” she said.
CompetitionAs with Maher, Cavan Tornga rode on the Megabus for its prices. Additionally, he chose Megabus because it stops 20 minutes away from his home in Sacramento.
“It was a competition between Amtrak, airlines, Greyhound and Megabus,” Tornga said. “I would recommend people to buy their tickets in advance because it’s cheaper.”
Though several travelers were satisfied with Megabus fares, Reginald Stearne found himself wondering why prices went up this holiday season. His wife, Angela, commutes to San Francisco for her work as a caregiver, he said. She rides Megabus every Sunday and returns Tuesdays.
Although the Stearnes rely on Megabus because of its price range, fares are comparable to Greyhound, they said.
Greyhound, which networks through more than 3,800 locations in the United States, is expecting more than 500,000 customers overall during the holidays, said spokeswoman Alexandra Pedrini.
Greyhound’s focus is to provide good prices, the best service and safe and reliable transportation, Pedrini said.
“Greyhound’s business over the holidays was just as busy as last year, so we’re continuing to see strong passenger numbers in Reno,” Pedrini said.
Prices for Greyhound range from $10 one-way to $20 round trip between Reno and San Francisco. The price varies depending on the date, destination and travel arrangements, Pedrini said. Travelers pay more if tickets are bought at the bus station, which start at $70.
“Greyhound tries to keep pricing affordable and paying $10 for a one-way trip is pretty good,” she said.