A month ago, I wrote about Megabus making their return to the California market. Sadly, for the Central Valley, their announced route structure is mostly a repeat of what they offered the state in 2007 and 2008, before pulling out.
They will be offering the following routes (no intermediate stops, aside from a possible rest stop for 15 minutes)
Los Angeles - San Jose - San Francisco
Los Angeles - Oakland - San Francisco
Los Angeles - Riverside - Las Vegas
San Francisco - Sacramento - Reno (Sparks)
In 2007, they had also served San Diego and Phoenix.
Megabus will be starting small, offering many less departures than they do on the east coast.
For example, between LA and SF there will be 6 daily departures, with the trips advertized between 7 and 8 hours. Between SF and Sacramento, there will be 4 departures, and between LA and Las Vegas, four as well.
To put that in perspective, there are 16 daily departures between Dallas and Houston, and 14 between Boston and NYC.
It's understandable that Megabus is starting small, but it's also a shame. The company isn't shy about serving smaller towns, such as Hartford CT (125,000) with three daily departures to NYC, or Montgomery Alabama (205,000) with two trips to Atlanta. Fresno (510,000) and Bakersfield (350,000) are certainly much larger, and could easily support a few trips a day to LA or SF.
As I wrote last time, as long as the departures aren't at the exact same time as Amtrak, the Megabus service can actually improve all forms of non-automobile travel, as customers are best able to match the departure times to their preferences. Customers might very well pick a 10am Amtrak departure, and return on a 8pm Megabus.
Hopefully, Megabus sees success and rams up their service in 2013.
And while Greyhound has been paying attention, and pushing their new "express" service (which does serve Fresno) in anticipation of Megabus, they need to follow up with better buses. While Greyhound has made huge strides, they are associated with their gritty stations and sketchy passengers, and the older fleet doesn't help.
Megabus travel begins December 12th, with all tickets being $1.50 during the first week of service.