The Sad Lesson of Megabus

The promise of Megabus for consumers is low prices for upscale bus trips between major cities including free wifi, new buses and no sketchy downtown bus stations.  The parent company of Megabus is a provider of ultra-low-end bus travel, CoachUSA.   For them, starting Megabus promised they could break into a previously untapped market segment (yuppies and the middle class) from their base in the low-end of the travel market.

But, they screwed it up.

Instead of making a clean start to target a new market segment with very different needs, CoachUSA took its same drivers and infrastructure and slapped a Megabus name on it.  The buses usually have broken air conditioning and smell badly.  The drivers have the toughness of those who are clearly accustomed to a bus full of ruffians and the free internet rarely works.  These things are OK for the low-end of the travel market that is chasing the lowest bus fares possible but unacceptable to soccer moms.

The lesson is that new market segments usually need to be attacked with a fresh start.  Customers see very quickly when lipstick has been put on a pig.

Michael Girdley