published Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Megabus service unites region's big cities

Freddie Taylor stands at the door of the Megabus, a busing service that stops at several locations with fares starting at $1. The bus stops in Chattanooga at the parking lot of the Rave Theater.
Freddie Taylor stands at the door of the Megabus, a busing service that stops at several locations with fares starting at $1. The bus stops in Chattanooga at the parking lot of the Rave Theater.
Photo by Jenna Walker.

BUS STOPS

Megabus coaches will pick up and drop off Chattanooga passengers near the Rave movie theater at 5402 S. Terrace in East Ridge. Other cities will have bus stops at:

Atlanta -- MARTA's Civic Center station downtown, on the northbound side of West Peachtree Street NW south of the intersection with Pine Street NE.

Knoxville -- Knoxville Transit Center, 301 Church Ave.

Nashville -- Ramada at Downtown Stadium, 303 Interstate Drive and the north side of Commerce Street and Fifth Avenue North.

To order tickets, visit www.megabus.com

After almost a year, Leonard Epperson finally is going to see his daughter.

Epperson lives in Nashville and his daughter's all the way down in Atlanta. Gas prices make the 250-mile journey an expensive trip, so when Epperson heard he could hop on a new area bus and get a ride from Nashville to Chattanooga, then down to Atlanta for a couple bucks, he figured he'd give it a try.

"I wanted to see how it's going to do. It's cheaper than buying gas," he said at the end of the Nashville-to-Chattanooga route while waiting to continue to Atlanta. "So far, I'm liking it."

Megabus, a point-to-point bus service, started running trips to and from Chattanooga, Nashville, Knoxville and Atlanta on Wednesday. The company began selling tickets on Oct. 25, and Megabus general manager John Emberson said he's seen a good response so far.

"We've got a lot of activity, a lot of people," he said.

As the company develops a presence in the area, it's offering several 50 cent fares. Every Megabus coach across the country offers $1 seats to those who book early, but fares climb as seats fill and travel dates approach.

Megabus has operated throughout parts of the North and Northeast since 2006. The service has no terminals, only bus stops, and all tickets are sold online at Megabus.com.

The company invested about $10 million in staff, equipment, market research and operating expenses in the Atlanta-centered market. Though there are other bus services from Chattanooga to Atlanta, Knoxville and Nashville, Megabus is the first to offer non-stop rides without a building terminal.

Tennessee State University student Antonia Masi was happy the service came to the area. Her family lives in Atlanta, so she's planning on using the service regularly.

She took her first trip Wednesday, and said she enjoyed the experience. Megabus coaches have power outlets and free Internet access, so Masi said she was more entertained on this trip than if she had taken any other type of transportation.

"It's way better," she said. "I'll be able to make the trip a whole lot more."

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