The low-cost express bus carrier Megabus — known for $1 fares — is expanding in Florida by making Orlando a regional hub.
Starting May 15, Megabus will offer daily nonstop trips to Miami, Tallahassee and Tampa from Orlando. That’s in addition to daily routes already offered from Orlando to Gainesville, Jacksonville and Atlanta.
Mike Alvich, Megabus vice president of marketing, said the company will create 60 new jobs, mostly drivers and mechanics, for the expansion.
The pickup and departure site for Megabus also will change May 15 from the Lynx station in downtown Orlando to North Gertrude Avenue, between West Jefferson and West Washington streets, Alvich said.
Megabus has been in business since 2006, starting in the Midwest. It expanded to Orlando in 2011 and has carried 35 million passengers nationwide, Alvich said.
The three new Orlando routes will offer $1 fares, plus a $1.50 booking fee, from May 15-21. After that, the normal fare structure takes over, though $1 seats will still be available, Alvich said.
Reservations are made online; the earlier the booking, the cheaper the fare, including the $1 seats, Alvich said. Typical one-way fares from Orlando to Atlanta are between $34 and $39.
Company officials expect to carry 200,000 riders to and from Orlando on the new routes.
Megabus, Alvich said, draws 60 percent of its passengers from people who own cars or have access to them. Riders make the switch to bus, he said, because the service offers travel times comparable to a car.
The trip from Orlando to Tallahassee, for instance, takes five hours, Alvich said. Orlando to Miami is four hours, 10 minutes; while Orlando to Tampa is one hour, 30 minutes.
Megabus double-decker buses hold 81 passengers, with each seat offering an electrical outlet and free Wi-Fi, Alvich said.
“Customers can travel to these popular destinations in approximately the same amount of time it would take to drive themselves, without the stress of being behind the wheel,” Alvich said.
Passengers can book their tickets at http://www.megabus.com, Alvich said.