PITTSBURGH — Since announcing with fanfare in 2011 that Pittsburgh would be a hub city, Megabus.com has trimmed the number of destinations it serves from here by more than half.
Service to Cleveland, Toledo, Detroit, and Ann Arbor ended this month, leaving the low-cost carrier with these destinations from Pittsburgh: New York, Philadelphia, Washington, State College, Harrisburg, and Morgantown, W.Va.
Earlier to hit the chopping block were trips to Akron, Cincinnati, and Columbus; Erie, Pa.; Buffalo and Niagara Falls, N.Y., Camden, N.J., Frederick, Md., and Toronto.
The destinations all were dropped because of insufficient ridership, said Mike Alvich, the carrier’s vice president of marketing and public relations.
“We love Pittsburgh as a hub. As a retail enterprise you’ve got to be able to cover costs. We just have not been able to get enough ridership to support it,” he said.
Mr. Alvich said patronage on the remaining routes is strong, and he said he would not rule out restoring lost service or connecting Pittsburgh with other cities if market conditions become favorable.
While Pittsburgh has been an uneven experience, Megabus.com continues to grow rapidly across the continent.
Since its inception in 2006, Megabus.com has carried more than 35 million riders and serves more than 120 cities in North America. Its routes touch 32 states. It reported a 20 percent growth in sales last year and recently announced plans to expand service in Florida.
The company touts its comfortable double-decker buses with electric outlets and free Wi-Fi and one-way fares as low as $1, although as of Monday morning, few seats were available at that price for those traveling from Pittsburgh.
Prices, which are based on demand, have edged upward since the company started serving Pittsburgh in 2010.
A price check on Monday morning showed that through Sept. 9, which is the last day that can be booked in advance, no seats were available at $1 from Pittsburgh to New York City.
Buses to Philadelphia had $1 seats on three days in August; buses to Washington had $1 seats on nine days in July and August.
Otherwise, one-way fares ranged from $10 to $79 to New York; $13 to $55 to Philadelphia, and $15 to $44 to Washington.
Megabus.com, which offers seating on a first-come, first-served basis, last month announced an experiment with limited reserved seating on some routes, but none serving Pittsburgh.
For an extra fee, passengers on the designated routes can reserve one of 10 seats on the 81-seat buses that the carrier has determined are the favorites among its customers, Mr. Alvich said.
Riders have been known to line up at stops an hour before departure to claim those seats, he said.
The test begins May 28 on routes in the corridor from Washington to Boston. “Our goal is to roll it out nationally,” he said.
Meanwhile, a push to relocate the company’s Pittsburgh stop from under the David L. Lawrence Convention Center at 10th Street and Penn Avenue appears to have lost momentum.
Convention center officials wanted it moved, citing complaints about litter and passengers using the center’s restrooms.
The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Jon Schmitz is a reporter for the Post-Gazette.
Contact Jon Schmitz at: email@example.com or 412-263-1868.
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