Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Where to Put Megabus Is a Big Issue for Many

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Where to Put Megabus Is a Big Issue for Many

Article excerpt

You want a sure way to anger thousands of young people? Mess with Megabus.

That's the big intercity bus that appeals to everyone's inner skinflint. I'm not young, but later this month I intend to make a round-trip to Washington, D.C., on one for $35.

Yeah. That's right. Thirty-five bucks. Make your reservation early enough online and that's the rate you can get, or even lower. That's why between 500 and 800 people depart Downtown daily via these double-tiered buses bound for Washington, New York and a handful of other places, while a similar number come here from the other directions.

When the story broke last week that city officials had declared Megabus vehiculum non grata at its customary David L. Lawrence Convention Center stop, a mega-rampage of rants began immediately in the comments section of the Post-Gazette's article online. The overwhelming consensus among students, hipsters and graying cheapskates was that moving -- or, worse, stopping -- something so affordable, convenient and efficient would set new lows for Pittsburgh.

A grown-up city ought to be able to figure this out. But customers should also know that, wherever the Megabus stop winds up, it's going to make someone unhappy. For more than a year, that unhappy person has been Mark Leahy, the convention center's general manager.

While Mr. Leahy acknowledges the service is "great for the city" and serves "all walks of life," he also says the buses are squatters in a place where they were never invited.

"They chose us," he said. "We didn't choose them. They showed up one day. 'This is Megabus.' "

It's an ideal spot for riders because it's easy to find, well- lit and safe. Those dropping off or picking up riders can zip in on the 10th Street Bypass without getting snarled in much Downtown traffic. Plus it's covered. But the very thing that makes Megabus so affordable -- eliminating most of the overhead by operating without terminals -- makes it an intrusive neighbor.

Someone in Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's office made sure I knew the New York Department of Transportation is booting Megabus from its midtown Manhattan location outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal because its rent-paying competitors inside the terminal don't see why it should get a free perch. …

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