Megabus competition benefits students

Khadija Saifullah

Although Thanksgiving break is over two months away, Megabus already has one-way tickets costing over $60. In addition to the more-often-than-not delays that last hours, Megabus has gotten a lot pricier over the past couple of years, when I was able to go back to Dallas every other weekend. Fortunately, there are alternative bus services that have been established in Austin recently.

Texas Express, which had transported students on weekends and university breaks from campus to Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, discontinued after low ridership last year. The service was good for scheduling last-minute trips, but it was also unreliable and often arrived hours late.

The secret to getting a decently priced Megabus ticket is scheduling your travel times months in advance, which is quite unreasonable, considering college students have ever-changing schedules.

Megabus is the only bus system that travels to other cities within Texas with a stop on campus, which makes it more convenient for students. However, for students who are trying to avoid the skyrocketing prices of Megabus and the sketchy nature of Greyhound, a new service has begun offering rides from Austin to San Antonio, Dallas and Houston. Shofur, an Atlanta-based startup, is debuting its app and online-based service to and from Austin just a few weeks after launching its bus lines between Dallas and Houston.

Armir Harris, co-founder and CEO of Shofur, said his company offers a more technologically integrated bus service that allows riders to track buses in real time and get alerts if a bus is behind schedule. This is a huge benefit to students who have experienced delays with Megabus that have lasted hours while waiting in 90-degree weather behind Dobie Mall. During the busy travel seasons of Labor Day weekend and Thanksgiving break, Friday afternoons are not always the optimal time to depart and are bound to have delays here and there due to traffic. Shofur understands that knowing about delays ahead of time saves stress and energy, especially since we already have enough to worry about.

“We’re not trying to get in a price war,” Harris said. “We want to capture the market by providing better service.”

When drivers sign in to the app, they clock in, alerting riders of the actual arrival time. Most of the buses Shofur connects riders with are from 2010 or later. It also has an agreement with parking garages near its pick-up spot at the University of Texas to offer riders a place to leave their cars.

Although the service doesn’t have a stop within walking distance of campus, it is still a viable option for students who are trying to avoid the skyrocketing Megabus prices and unexpected delays.

Saifullah is neuroscience junior from Richardson. Follow her on twitter @coolstorysunao