UK Transport Wiki
HeadquartersPerth, Scotland (United Kingdom)
Service areaTemplate:UK
Service typeIntercity coach service
OperatorStagecoach Group
(some lines contracted)
Chief executiveBrian Souter)
Web siteOfficial Web site

Megabus is a "no-frills" intercity bus service run by the Scottish-based Stagecoach Group. The service began in the United Kingdom in August 2003 and in the United States in April 2006 (operated by subsidiary Coach USA) See Megabus US.

Service overview[]

In the UK, prices are advertised as starting at £1, with a 50p booking fee. In the US, fares start from $1, with a booking fee of 50 cents. Megabus follows the yield management model typically used by airlines where the lowest fares are offered to those who book early or on less popular journeys. Also mirroring the low cost airline model, the services often call at out-of-town locations therefore avoiding the need to drive through congested city centres in order to maintain punctuality.

Tickets must be purchased in advance, the more in advance, the cheaper they are, via their website or by telephone. Passengers are simply given a reservation number which they show the driver when they board. It is not possible to buy a ticket on the bus except on a few Scottish services. Tickets can be paid for in pounds sterling, euros, or United States dollars.

The company started a price war with rivals, notably National Express and Scottish Citylink, who lowered some pre-booked tickets to £1 in Autumn 2004. However, competition with the latter operator has since ended since the two operators started to pool together services in 2005.

Scope of service[]

Expansion into U.S.[]

On 22 March 2006, Megabus started taking bookings for new routes in the United States. For more information see Megabus (US).

Proposed merger[]

On 13 September 2005, ComfortDelGro (the owners of Scottish Citylink) and Stagecoach announced that they were entering into a joint venture to provide express coach services within Scotland, effectively ending the competition on Megabus routes within Scotland. Under the terms of the agreement, Stagecoach would acquire 35% of Citylink, in return for certain rights to the Megabus brand in Scotland. Megabus operations in the rest of the UK remain unaffected by the deal. Despite being a minority shareholder, Stagecoach has assumed operational control of Scottish Citylink, with Stagecoach staff taking management roles within the company and Stagecoach subsidiaries replacing subcontract operators on many routes. Some Citylink services have also been sacrificed in favour of the Megabus brand where operations overlapped.

After an investigation started in March 2006, the Competition Commission has ruled that the merger is anti-competitive. Though regulators will begin consultation with the two companies to seek an appropriate remedy, it is likely that this will involve the forced divestment of some services to an independent operator.


File:Megabus Neoplan Skyliner.jpg

A Neoplan Skyliner coach in Manchester on a journey from London to Aberdeen

File:Megabus in Manchester.jpg

A Jonckheere bodied articulated coach in Manchester on a Megabus service from London to Glasgow

Initially, most of the routes used buses designed for short local public transport journeys that had no toilet or luggage space, and each passenger was allowed only one bag. Toilets have been added to the fleet, enabling Megabus to eliminate toilet stops. These double decker buses are 94-seat tri-axle Leyland Olympian built for service with Hong Kong Citybus in 1990/1991. Stagecoach purchased Citybus in March 1999 but sold the company in 2003 after the group hit financial difficulties, the batch of Olympians used for Megabus remaining in Stagecoach ownership following the divestment. These powerful Cummins-engined Olympians soon became the trademark of the fleet in their dark blue livery with huge Megabus wording and logos adorning almost every available part of the bodyside. Newer 'high-frills' bendy coaches, which do have toilets and reclining seats, were used for the longer journeys between London and Scotland, but these were replaced early in 2005.

In the early days, a number of mid-life Volvo B10M coaches temporarily operated various routes, mainly in the South of England, until sufficient Olympians had been prepared for service. Gradually, most of these coaches were taken off Megabus work and used by Stagecoach elsewhere. However, the type made a reappearance at the end of 2005 when they became the mainstays on the services from London to Birmingham and London to Nottingham/Chesterfield.

In summer 2004, Stagecoach received a batch of Neoplan Skyliners for use on the Oxford Tube service. This displaced a number of 68 seat five-year-old double-deck Jonckheere-bodied MAN coaches, some of which went into service with Megabus on cross-border services and on services wholly within Scotland.

Stagecoach ordered another batch of Neoplan Skyliners in 2004, which went into service on Megabus in early 2005. These replaced the articulated coaches used on services between London and Scotland, and also Olympians on some of the other longer distance services. This meant that Olympians were mainly confined to the shorter distance routes in southern England.

In October 2006, Stagecoach announced an £11m order for 45 Volvo B12BT 15-metre coaches with Plaxton Panther coachwork for their UK Megabus operation. The three-axle coaches will be the longest rigid vehicles in the UK on their introduction to service in February 2007, and the first of their kind to be built in Britain. The 63-seat vehicles will be fully accessible, with wheelchair lifts fitted.

Vehicles are owned and maintained by various Stagecoach subsidiaries that lie within the route network. In lieu of properly branded Megabus vehicles being available, it is not unusual for Stagecoach service vehicles to deputise; these ranging from standard double deck types such as the Volvo Olympian and Dennis Trident, through to Volvo B10M single deckers or even Dennis Dart SLF midibuses. Red Stagecoach London double deckers from Leyton were often seconded to Megabus motorway work until the sale of that company to Macquarie Bank.

Accessible Coach Routes:

  • Service M9 - Aberdeen - Glasgow via Dundee and Perth.
  • Service M90 - Inverness - Edinburgh via Perth.
  • Service M7 - Cardiff to London
  • Service M10 - Bristol to London
  • Service M6 - Plymouth to London via Exeter
  • Service M20 - Edinburgh to London via Newcastle, Scotch Corner, Wakefield and Sheffield


Services from London to Oxford commenced on 4 August 2003, and routes from Edinburgh-Glasgow, Edinburgh-Perth and Glasgow-Dundee were added one month later. During November 2003 routes between Manchester-Liverpool and Manchester-Leeds were added, these ceased on 27 June 2004 and 3 October 2004 respectively. The most significant development of the Megabus network came on 1 March 2004 when a whole network of routes from Green Line Coach Station, a short distance from Victoria Coach Station, in London were added. Services have since moved to Victoria Coach Station in a deal with Transport for London[1] These new services served Brighton, Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth, Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth, Cardiff, Swansea and Birmingham.

On 28 June 2004 routes from London to Milton Keynes, Leicester, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester and Glasgow were added and within two months these were followed by the expansion of the Scottish routes to include Aberdeen and Inverness.

Stagecoach lost the contract to run the National Express route between Gloucester, Cheltenham and London, prompting Stagecoach to introduce Megabus between Cheltenham, Gloucester and London from 5 September 2004.

On 6 September 2004, Stagecoach took over the Motorvator coach service between Edinburgh and Glasgow, selling a number of seats per journey through the Megabus site (the remainder being available without booking in advance, at regular fares). This enabled Stagecoach to cancel the dedicated Megabus service between the two cities.

Routes between London and Liverpool, and London and Newcastle started on 10 October 2004.

On 15 November 2004, the Oxford to London service was replaced by seats on the Oxford Tube.

From 6 December 2004, the Megabus service between Cheltenham, Gloucester and London also called at Swindon.

On 31 January 2005, the Stagecoach Express service X5 between Oxford and Cambridge became part of the Megabus network, selling a number of seats per journey in the same way as the Oxford Tube and Motorvator.

From 18 April 2005, Nottingham, Worthing and Winchester were added to the network (by slight extensions/modifications to existing routes), however rationalisation of the rest of the network also took place. In particular, some early morning and late evening services were withdrawn.

From 13 June 2005, the Liverpool to London service called additionally at Stoke-on-Trent and a new service was introduced between Coventry and London. However, the London-Cardiff-Swansea service was withdrawn between Cardiff and Swansea.

The joint venture between Citylink and Megabus led to a co-ordination of services in Scotland. On 21 November 2005, the 900 Motorvator service was replaced by an enhanced Citylink service. However, the facility to buy seats through the Megabus website was retained.

From 28 November 2005, most of the faster Citylink services between Aberdeen, Dundee, Perth and Glasgow, and Inverness, Perth and Edinburgh were replaced by a more frequent, combined Megabus/Citylink service. As a consequence, passengers who previously used parallel Citylink services from the bus station in Perth town centre were required to use Broxden Park and Ride on the outskirts of the town, with little to no onward connections to the town centre. Tickets for the combined Megabus/Citylink services are available through both companies' websites, though often at conflicting prices. From 16 February 2006, the slower Citylink service between Dundee, Perth and Glasgow became available to book through the Megabus website, restoring Perth bus station to the Megabus network.

Also on 28 November 2005, the London to Manchester route was extended to Preston, with certain journeys extended further to Blackpool or Lancaster. This coincided with the loss of National Express work at Preston depot. The extensions to Blackpool and Lancaster were short lived, and were withdrawn in February 2006, citing low passenger numbers.

Again, following the loss of National Express contracts (this time at Rugby depot), on 5 December 2005, the London to Birmingham service was increased in frequency to every two hours. However, an additional stop was introduced at the outskirts of Coventry, with the withdrawal of the direct once a day Megabus service to Coventry city centre. One journey a day in each direction was extended to Wolverhampton. The stops in the south of Birmingham were no longer served.

Further changes on this day were the doubling of the London to Nottingham service to twice a day with one journey extended to Chesterfield (which regained its Megabus service lost in April 2005) and the introduction of a new once a day service from London to Norwich.

A number of changes to routes were made on 27 March 2006. A new direct service was introduced between Ferrytoll Park & Ride in Fife, Edinburgh and London via Newcastle and Sheffield. Together with changes to the Leeds to London services meant that changes at Tibshelf services were no longer needed. In addition, many routes had timetable changes. In particular, the London to Southampton and London to Portsmouth routes became feeders to the London to Bournemouth service, meaning that passengers were required to change at Winchester. Some London to Bristol journeys were extended to Cwmbran.

The London to Norwich service was withdrawn on 14 May 2006, as were the services from London to Wolverhampton and Chesterfield.

The London to Cheltenham service introduced an extra stop at Reading on 20 November 2006.

Early in February 2007, it was announced that the service between London, Milton Keynes, Leicester and Nottingham would be withdrawn on 11 March 2007.

From 21 May 2007, services between London and Leeds were extended to include Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Newcastle.

On 1 October 2007, the London hub moved from Bulleid Way to Victoria Coach Station. [2]

Route number Route Start date End date Notes
M1 Wolverhampton - Birmingham - Coventry - London 1 March 2004 14 May 2006 Wolverhampton and Coventry added from 5 December 2005
M1 Birmingham - Coventry - London 15 May 2006 to date
M2 Bournemouth - Ringwood - Winchester - London 1 March 2004 to date Winchester added from 18 April 2005
M3 Southampton - Winchester - London 1 March 2004 26 March 2006 Winchester added from 18 April 2005.
M4 Portsmouth - London 1 March 2004 26 March 2006
M4 Portsmouth - Southampton - Winchester - London 27 March 2006 to date Change of vehicle required at Winchester.
M5 Worthing - Brighton - London 1 March 2004 to date Extended to Worthing from 18 April 2005
M6 Plymouth - Exeter - London 1 March 2004 to date
M7 Swansea - Cardiff - London 1 March 2004 12 June 2005
M7 Cardiff - London 13 June 2005 to date
M8 Edinburgh - Glasgow 8 September 2003 5 September 2004 Replaced by joint service with Motorvator (900)
900 Edinburgh - Glasgow 6 September 2004 20 November 2005 Joint service with Motorvator. Replaced by joint service with Citylink.
900 Edinburgh - Glasgow 21 November 2005 to date Joint service with Citylink
M8 Dundee - Perth - Glasgow 16 February 2006 to date Joint service with Citylink
M9 Aberdeen - Dundee - Perth - Glasgow 8 September 2003 to date Extended to Aberdeen from 23 August 2004.
M10 Cwmbran - Bristol - London 1 March 2004 to date Cwmbran added from 27 March 2006.
M11 Glasgow - Manchester - London 28 June 2004 to date
M12 Leeds - Sheffield - Chesterfield - London 28 June 2004 9 October 2004 Route changed: see below
M12 Newcastle - Scotch Corner - Leeds - Tibshelf Services - London 10 October 2004 17 April 2005 Route changed: see below
M12 (Shuttle) Sheffield - Chesterfield - Tibshelf Services 10 October 2004 17 April 2005 Connects with M12. Route changed: see below
M12 Leeds - Sheffield - Tibshelf Services - London 18 April 2005 26 March 2006
M12 Leeds - Sheffield - London 27 March 2006 20 May 2007
M12 Newcastle - Sunderland - Middlesbrough - Leeds - Sheffield - London 21 may 2007 to date
M12 (Shuttle) Newcastle - Scotch Corner - Sheffield - Tibshelf Services 18 April 2005 26 March 2006 Replaced by route M20
M13 Chesterfield - Nottingham - Leicester - Milton Keynes - London 28 June 2004 14 May 2006 Extended to Nottingham from 18 April 2005 and extended to Chesterfield from 5 December 2005
M13 Nottingham - Leicester - Milton Keynes - London 15 May 2006 Withdrawn on 11 March 2007 but reintroduced as Leicester - London (non-stop) from 1st August 2007, one journey each way.
M14 Cheltenham - Gloucester - Swindon - Reading - London 5 September 2004 to date Swindon added from 6 December 2004. Reading added from 20 November 2006.
M15 Liverpool - Stoke-on-Trent - London 10 October 2004 to date Stoke-on-Trent added from 13 June 2005
M16 Coventry - London 13 June 2005 4 December 2005 Replaced by extra stop on route M1
M17 Lancaster - Preston - Manchester - London 28 November 2005 26 February 2006
M17 Preston - Manchester - London 27 February 2006 to date
M18 Blackpool - Preston - Manchester - London 28 November 2005 26 February 2006
M19 Norwich - London 5 December 2005 14 May 2006 Services to & from Norwich was withdrawn after 14 May 2006 due to low ridership
M20 Inverness - Perth - Ferrytoll - Edinburgh - Newcastle - Scotch Corner - Sheffield - London 27 March 2006 to date
M40 Oxford - London 4 August 2003 14 November 2004 Replaced by booking facility with Oxford Tube
Oxford Tube Oxford - London 15 November 2004 to date Service operated by Stageocach Oxford as Oxford Tube, but seats can be booked through Megabus
M62 Manchester - Leeds 17 November 2003 3 October 2004
M63 Manchester - Liverpool 17 November 2003 27 June 2004
M90 Inverness - Perth - Edinburgh 8 September 2003 to date Extended to Inverness from 23 August 2004.
M92 Edinburgh - St. Andrews 26 September 2003 20 September 2004
X5 Oxford - Cambridge 31 January 2005 to date Service operated by Stageocach East as a Stagecoach Express service, but seats can be booked through Megabus


External links[]

See also[]

  • Coach services in the United Kingdom
  • BoltBus - a competing service in the United States

Template:Scottish Bus Operators