There are numerous departures each day from morning to evening and the fares are mostly but not always cheaper than rival National Express. In Manchester, Megabus coaches arrive and depart from Shudehill Transport Interchange - NOT Central coach station.
The buses are modern and comfortable and if you choose your departure time carefully, they are not crowded, so you can have two seats to yourself.
Megabus is owned by Stagecoach, the gigantic transport company founded in 1986 in Scotland. Now it dominates the public transport scene in the UK and in several other countries.
The first place to start looking if you're planning on travelling by Megabus is the www.megabus.com website.
First click 'English' under the blue EU flag and then you are taken to the UK home page. Enter the 'Number of Passengers', 'Leaving from', 'Travelling to', and the dates. You are then taken to the 'trip results' page and you can select your outbound and return trip.
After that you will go to the confirmation page and payment page.
There is a small booking fee of currently 50p.
Please note: There is no ticket, only a booking reference number. You can either print out the website page or email confirmation with your itinerary on it, or just write the number on your phone or a piece of paper. It's also possible to have the number texted to you. This is called an m-ticket and there is a small fee.
You can't buy a ticket from the driver. You can only purchase it online or from a small number of outlets.
On my trips to Glasgow, I took the 1.30am departure. There is a disadvantage to using Shudehill Transport interchange, which is primarily a local bus station. If the bus is late, there is no information displayed and there is no member of staff to ask, you just have to wait.
On all my trips, the Megabus has only been late a couple of times.
I recommend arriving early so you can wait at the front of the queue and choose the best seat. When the driver is ready, you show him your booking number and if it is on his list, he will allow you to board the bus. Any large items of baggage need to be put in the the storage area. Then you can get on and choose a seat. I always prefer to sit by the window and I like to be near the back of the bus.
Once all the passengers have boarded, it's time to depart. If the bus is full you won't have much space, but if you're not travelling at a peak time, then you should have your own seat plus the seat next to you.
At the start of the trip, the driver gives a welcome message and will tell you it is the law to wear your seat belt. I always wear mine. Accidents are extremely rare but if there is one, I would prefer to be as safe as possible.
I have enjoyed travelling by night bus since I was a child. I find it very easy to sleep. The only time I was ever disturbed on a night bus was when two young guys engaged in a loud conversation for over an hour. Even with my earphones playing music I could hear them. Eventually I asked them politely to be quiet and finally they shut up.
Passengers should always be considerate to those around them. That includes avoiding loud conversation or playing loud music on earphones and disturbing others. No one should be afraid to speak up and if there is a serious problem, tell the driver.
Megabus coaches have a toilet at the back. Unfortunately the toilets are not always maintained to the best standards, so you just have to make the best of it.
Some Megabus routes have breaks at motorway services but on my Manchester to Glasgow trips, the journey was always non-stop. It would be nice if they used the excellent Tebay Services on the M6.
The 1.30am departure from Manchester arrives at Glasgow Buchanan St Bus Station at 6.15am. If you're on a day trip, that's a quite an early start, so on one trip I decided to catch the Scottish Citylink (partly owned by Stagecoach) to Edinburgh. That provided me with another hour of sleep and some sightseeing time in Edinburgh before sleeping some more on the Citylink back to Glasgow, where I spent the rest of the day.
That night I took the Megabus back to Manchester and it was an easy and comfortable journey that for me ended too soon. It was only just under five hours! I noticed that there is an overnight service from Glasgow to London that takes nearly ten hours, and if you book well in advance the one way fare is as low as £8!
Yes, I love travelling by bus, and in my opinion, Megabus offer a very good and often cost-effective service , but there is one golden rule to get the best price: Book early!
This article is just a review, providing answers only basic questions. If you'd like to know more, then do a search for 'Megabus Frequently Asked Questions'. That will take you to the official Megabus site but there is also unofficial page written by an ex-Stagecoach driver, which makes very interesting reading!
See also my review of the Manchester to London Megabus service.