By Errol Castens
OXFORD – Megabus.com began service to Oxford on Tuesday, offering the city’s first scheduled intercity bus routes since Greyhound terminated service about a decade ago.
Megabus.com, which terms itself an “express bus service,” has daily departures from Oxford to Memphis at 6:10 a.m., 3:40 p.m., and 11:10 p.m., along with another three to Jackson and New Orleans at 11 a.m., 5:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. The buses do not stop at cities between those destinations.
“A big part of our customer base at megabus.com are college students, student families and alumni,” said Mike Alvich, megabus.com vice president of marketing and public relations. “We felt it was an opportunity not only for students but for the rest of the community to take advantage of megabus.com’s very affordable fares.”
While a check of the website showed one-way fares as high as $19 from Oxford to Jackson, Memphis and New Orleans, lesser fares are common.
“Our fares start at one dollar,” Alvich said, with advance bookings usually netting the lowest prices.
The express-bus concept began in Scotland about a decade ago, he said, then moved to England and then about eight years ago to Chicago, from which it has now spread more than 120 cities in 33 states, the District of Columbia and Ontario and Quebec, Canada. The double-decker buses feature three-point seat belts and free wi-fi and electrical outlets.
The megabus.com site in Oxford is at the University of Mississippi’s Kudzu lot, at Highway 6 and Old Taylor Road. In Memphis it goes to the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) North End Terminal, which offers connections to Memphis International Airport – a key advantage for Oxford-based riders.
“We’re simply offering the service to our students and the rest of the University and Oxford community as an alternative way to get to Memphis,” said Clay Jones, assistant vice chancellor and director of human resources and contractual services at Ole Miss. “Particularly, we have a lot of students who have a need to get back and forth between the Memphis airport and campus.”
Jones was quick to quell any idea that intercity bus service might be aimed at facilitating restrictions on student-owned vehicles.
“We didn’t do this as a precursor to banning cars,” Jones said. “They’re not connected at all.”