Bus rides from Toledo to Ann Arbor soon will be available for as little as $1.50, albeit on a 2-1/2-hour route via Detroit.
Megabus.com, the discount intercity bus operator that has grown rapidly in the Northeastern and Great Lakes states with its rock-bottom promotional fare and on-board wireless Internet service, will extend one of its routes through Toledo to Ann Arbor on March 14. The carrier began taking reservations for the extended route last week.
Megabus buses running between Detroit and Chicago already stop at the State Street park-and-ride lot on the University of Michigan campus, and extending a Pittsburgh-Detroit route that also stops in Cleveland and Toledo is a response to rider demand, said Bryony Chamberlain, the company's director of operations.
"We'd had a lot of requests from students at the university in Ann Arbor," she said.
The route will start with one round trip daily, leaving Toledo at 11:30 a.m. and arriving in Ann Arbor at 2:05 p.m., then leaving Ann Arbor at 3:30 p.m. and stopping in Toledo at 6:05 p.m.
Stops are scheduled en route at Detroit's Rosa Parks Transit Center, 360 Michigan Ave., and at Warren and Cass avenues, near Wayne State University.
As with all other Megabus routes, a limited number of seats on the Pittsburgh-Ann Arbor buses will be sold for $1, plus a 50-cent reservation fee. The number of bargain seats on each bus varies between one and seven, depending on anticipated demand for a particular trip, Ms. Chamberlain said.
The top fare for Toledo-Ann Arbor will be $15 when service begins -- the same as the top Megabus fare between Toledo and Detroit.
The top fare between Toledo and Cleveland now is $1 higher than Ann Arbor to Cleveland; the top fare from Ann Arbor to Pittsburgh will be $21 to start.
"The fares vary depending on date of booking versus the date of travel, and how full the bus is," Ms. Chamberlain said. "The further out you book, the better the deals."
The higher top fare to get to Cleveland from Toledo instead of Ann Arbor is a quirk of the company's system for predicting demand for unsold seats, she said.
Megabus began service on the Chicago-Toledo-Cleveland route in September, 2006, stopping next to the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority park-and-ride lot at the former Southwyck Shopping Center.
With Southwyck having since closed, Megabus now stops on the opposite side of Southwyck Boulevard, between Reynolds Road and Cheyenne Boulevard. The buses run to Chicago and Cleveland three times per day on and near the weekends and twice daily mid-week, when travel is lighter.
The Pittsburgh-Detroit route, also stopping on Southwyck Boulevard, began last May and currently runs once a day each way, although Ms. Chamberlain said Megabus can add extra buses or trips on any of its routes if demand appears high.
"Every schedule is constantly monitored for capacity, both through the system and through staff checks. This allows us to increase schedules and manipulate fares hour to hour so that we can carry the most people in a cost-efficient manner," the spokesman said.
"We can keep our fares down and still react to big changes in the traveling public's requirements day to day, unlike an operator who has published timetables and fares that they stick to for the next six months," she said.
About 45,000 people used the buses to or from Toledo last year, Ms. Chamberlain said. Reservations for all trips must be made in advance, over the Internet; Megabus.com does not have ticket offices and drivers do not handle cash fares.
Contact David Patch at: email@example.com or 419-724-6094.