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Megabus are the only serious national competitor to National Express, the UK's largest scheduled operator of long distance bus services.
From London, the Megabus network reaches out to nearly all major cities in England, Wales and Scotland so on most popular routes you will have a choice of travelling with National Express or Megabus as well as the train.
In London, the Megabus terminus is Victoria Coach Station, London's only major coach station which it shares with its arch rival National Express.
The big attraction of coach travel is the low price compared with the main rail alternative that is normally faster but more expensive. Promotional on-line prices can be astounding, it's often cheaper to take a coach to the other end of England than just getting to one of London's airports.
Megabus are owned by Stagecoach PLC and again like National Express are a well established quoted global corporate with extensive operations globally. Coaches are modern with air conditioning, toilets and are non-smoking. Wi-Fi and charging points have been added to the fleet but cannot be guaranteed.
Victoria Coach Station is just a like a busy regional airport. Coaches leave every couple of minutes, there are airport style departure screens and departure gates where you board the coach. There is a full list of facilities including a useful left luggage office.
The dominant national operators at Victoria, National Express and Megabus have a stranglehold on services.
The European scheduled bus operator Eurolines also has its terminus at London Victoria. The most busy European routes are relatively short distance routes to Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam and Brussels but you can go to the far side of Europe using Euroline services.
Victoria Coach Station is quite central, 5 minutes' walk from Buckingham Palace and Victoria Railway and London Underground Station. Victoria is also a major London hotel district with accommodation options for all sectors of the market.
Find out more about Victoria:
You can put one medium-sized suitcase - weighing up to 20kg (44 lbs) into the luggage hold- plus one small piece of hand luggage per person that must fit either on your lap or under the seat in front of you. The maximum size of a single bag is 200cm (width + height + depth).
Should you wish to carry extra baggage, you would be required to purchase an additional seat.
Drivers loading the baggage do not weigh bags and use their discretion. Note, the National Express luggage limit is two cases.
Things like bikes, snowboards and other outsize luggage are not carried. Pushchairs can be taken with you but must be folded up and put in the hold and form part of your luggage allowance.
The Megabus fares structure is very similar to low cost budget airlines. The broad concept is keeping fares low cost with minimal overheads but delivering a quality product for that money.
The broad principles are:
Although you can buy tickets from a few ticket desks and ticket machines, notably at Victoria Coach Station, nearly all tickets are sold through the web site. The service is ticket-less just using reservation numbers.
The further you book in advance, the lower the cost of the ticket. As seats are sold on a bus the price goes up. This will mean that a lot of the time on a given route on the same day each departure may have differently priced tickets. Price volatility is much more than on National Express.
For a lot of services, ticket availability is only made 6-7 weeks ahead of the travel date. This is variable, but is consistently a much shorter time horizon than National Express which for most routes has availability going forward many months.
You can make amendments on-line up to 24 hours before departure. The alternative schedule you select may well be more expensive than at the time you originally made a reservation so you will need to pay the difference in price. You do not get the new schedule at the same price as your original reservation. There is also a small reservation fee for amending a booking.
If you miss the departure on your ticket you lose your ticket. You are expected to be at the bus stop 15 minutes prior to departure.
There are no concessionary fares except for journeys within Scotland. Children under 3 travel free, but are not guaranteed a seat.
When booking on-line you will get your e-ticket immediately by e-mail. The seats on the ticket are reserved so you are assured of a seat, but individual seat number reservations are not allowed.
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National Express are the only real competitor to Megabus, on most Megabus routes National Express will compete head to head.
National Express have a much longer history to Megabus and have a larger route network than Megabus and visit most towns in England and Wales, whilst Meagabus is more restricted to connecting the main cities and regional key towns.
The vehicles used by both companies are very similar.
The main differences between Megabus and National Express are:
National Express have a larger route network than Megabus and are particularly strong connecting London's airports.
National Express has a larger luggage allowance
National Express offers quite a complex range of fare types including passes and concessions for children. Very crudely, Megabus have a very simple low cost fare structure with no frills, whilst National Express have a full range of fare options.
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If you want to go further afield to Europe, Eurolines are a one stop solution that covers most of the key cities in Europe from London.
Most popular routes are probably the relatively short trips to Paris, Amsterdam or Dublin, normally the cheapest way of making this journey. But the Eurolines network interconnects 29 European countries so you can go much, much further.
Eurolines is an umbrella brand for a network of bus companies across Europe that work together to offer an integrated system. They are associated with National Express in the UK and as a result you can get combined ticketing coupling Eurolines European journeys with National Express services through out England and Wales.
London to Amsterdam and Paris are the busiest routes and these services have free Wi-Fi available too. Some services use the ferry, others make use of the tunnel to get to Europe.
Use our banner below to book your Eurolines tickets. Trainline cover both coach and train services throughout Europe, so just select the date, departure and destination to find prices and all the options available.
Europe wide coverage
• Large bus network • Comfortable air-conditioned buses with toilets • Free Wi-Fi with PLUS service • Daily departures
Flixbus are a young company that has grown rapidly and has established Europe's largest intercity bus network in the shortest amount of time.
Flixbus have used technological advancements to differentiate themselves by offering e-ticketing, a booking app, free Wi-Fi on board and GPS live tracking.
Their green buses are a way of trying to show their environmental credentials and sustainable approach to their business.
Started in Germany, they now cover a myriad of routes across Europe and offer cheap prices, but specialise in cross border services in the UK rather than town to town transport options.
Cheapest prices from London to Paris
• Large bus network • Comfortable buses with toilets • Free Wi-Fi • Snacks for sale onboard • Carbon efficient coaches