Megabus.com, the bus company known for its $1 one-way fares, plans its first stop in Greater Fort Lauderdale.
Megabus will offer daily service from Hollywood to Orlando and Tampa beginning Aug. 7 — about four hours to Orlando and about five hours to Tampa.
Every trip will offer at least one $1 fare, although customers have the best chance of snagging that rate if they book weeks ahead. Once it's gone, other fares are higher.
Megabus, born in the United Kingdom, has created a sensation since arriving in the U.S. in 2006. Besides discount fares, the double-decker buses offer free Wi-Fi, lap/shoulder seatbelts and wheelchair access.
The Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood location is the second one in South Florida for the city-to-city bus company. In May, Megabus began dispatching buses from Miami to Orlando and Tampa.
Although the new stop will be in Hollywood, at the Tri-Rail station at 2900 Sheridan St., people booking tickets at megabus.com will find it listed as "Fort Lauderdale."
Megabus also travels out of Gainesville, Jacksonville and Tallahassee, but those buses go to Alabama, Louisiana and other Florida cities, not directly to South Florida.
Intercity bus services like Megabus cost about 52 percent less than train service and about 79 percent less than plane tickets, according to a study this year by the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University.
Nationwide, Greyhound had nearly twice as many daily departures as other carriers, the institute found.
Greyhound also offers daily service from South Florida to Orlando and Tampa.
On Monday, Greyhound's Web-only fare for an 8:20 a.m. bus to Orlando was $18 on Aug. 12, compared with $17 for Megabus, same day and time. Both are one-way prices.
Greyhound spokeswoman Lanesha Gipson said Megabus' local expansion isn't necessarily bad.
"Anytime a bus company enters a market that we currently serve, it introduces more people to the concept of bus travel, which is a benefit for everyone," she said, adding that Greyhound also offers at least one $1 fare on every route.
On Megabus, the number of $1 tickets available varies by the day of the week, the time the bus leaves and the time of the year, Alvich said. Ticket prices increase as the travel date gets closer.
On Monday, for instance, one-way tickets to Orlando for Aug. 12 cost $10 and $17. Further down the road, a trip to Orlando on Nov. 18 cost $1.
People traveling on less busy days — Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays — have a better chance of getting the $1 rides, Alvich said.
Customers also pay a $1.50 reservation fee per transaction.
Megabus attracted criticism over safety in 2012, when a tire blowout figured in a crash that killed one person and injured almost 50 in Litchfield, Ill. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warned that year of the blowout danger posed by double-decker buses exceeding their tires' weight limits.
However, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration — a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation — gave Megabus its highest safety rating in its latest compliance review, dated back to 2012.
Megabus, based in New Jersey, says it has served more than 35 million customers since its launch in 2006.
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