Friday, August 19, 2011

Urbanophile Looks At Mega Bus

Someone said life is what happens when you are thinking about other things--the same is true for many transformative economic trends. Six years ago-or even less, only a small number of energy geeks had heard of hydraulic fracking or imagined it's possible potential or drawbacks. Mega Bus and similar competitors are a similar trend few saw having such a large impact on inter city travel.

While not perfect, I have used Mega Bus about 5 times to NYC and found the cost vs. benefit to be a much better option than Amtrak to NYC. From the crowds, many feel the same way.

Urbanophile has a good post up about the trend--and it's possible impact on High Speed Rail.

So why the complaints? They can speak for themselves, but I suspect a couple of items. Firstly, some people just don’t like private sector solutions. That’s a view I can respect, but not agree with. But more importantly, I think that there’s fear that successful private sector intercity bus service undermines the case for high speed rail that is near and dear to the urbanist heart

Indeed, it is true that in many cases Megabus frankly does undermine the case, particularly for the “Amtrak on steroids” style HSR proposals on the table in places like the Midwest. Megabus already delivers basically the end to end journey times of the proposed Midwest “high speed rail” system with similar amenities but without the need for billions in government expenditures. Even on the east coast, NYC to Providence has a journey time not that much worse than the Acela – and at 20% of the ticket price. Congestion might be a real concern, but if so, customers would notice. But give Megabus some credit – they build this into their schedules. Generally the journey times are as advertised.

One huge factor is that a true mass rail market must be price competitive-although he does mention the huge embeded subsidy coming from the "free" government highway system.

Anyway, a pretty good post-what are your thoughts?

No comments: