Being a comic who has failed her driving test 13 times, I am on public transport literally every day. (Wow. I literally just used the word literally, correctly. Go me.) Public Transport is such a part of my everyday life, so much so that trains, planes and automobile apps cover the picture of my boyfriend’s head on my phone screen saver. Now I’m not saying my Trainline app is more important than seeing my boyfriend’s face every day when we are apart, but the reason we are apart is probably because of Trainline.com
Basically what I’m saying is a girl needs to get around.
Now not only am I a season ticket holder I am also a seasoned pro at evaluating the pros and cons of one mode of transport versus the other, understanding swings and roundabouts, accessing whether it is six of one and half a dozen of the other, whereby finally concluding what’s the lesser of two evils Mega Bus or National Express?
Now when something has the word ‘National’ in it, it often gives me the impression that it is lacking a certain something. For example The National Health Service lacks funding, The British National Party lack a certain moral ethics code or The National Anthem lacks a decent baseline and techno beat. In many ways National Express lacks a certain ‘ je ne sais quoi’ and by this I mean that post Brexit, booking a National Express coach trip to France is now, near impossible.
On the other hand when something has the word ‘mega’ in it, it usually means that something is cheap. ‘Mega savings’, ‘Mega deals’ or ‘Megan Fox’. Oh and Megaluf.
Now, it’s well documented that National Express and Mega Bus are arch rivals. Like I’m talking Taylor Swift vs Kim Kardashian style enemies. Which is where the saying ‘women are like buses’ stems from. National Express is like Kim Kardashian, the best place to sit is the rear. Taylor Swift is like Mega Bus she goes all night for only a quid. To continue this metaphor, if you’re wondering what Kanye West is, he think he’s the Eurostar but he’s really just a dusty old white van that has ‘my wife is dirtier than this’ fingered in the dust.
Back to actual buses. As with all my blogs this one attempts to answer one of life’s big questions:
What’s the lesser of two evils, National Express or Mega Bus?
To make this extremely important decision I’ve assessed both companies on the following categories: Marketing, Comfort, Speed, Temperature, Personality Of Driver and Extra Services.
Here are my results:
Mega Bus: Have invested in some extremely effective and sharp advertising. The face of Dara O’Brian plastered across all the buses is so genius it’s almost Don Draper -esque. Dara O’Brian associates Mega Bus with fun and frivolity yet also being extremely aware of the political situation on a weekly basis. I like that in a bus company.
Score: 8/10 (they’d get 10/10 if it were Millican)
National Express: Coaches have no famous comics on their buses. This is disappointing, as most comics are on them travelling to gigs. Might I suggest National Express, if you are reading this, my services? I am a comic. Just saying.
Mega Bus: isn’t exactly synonymous with comfort. I’ve often thought of it as a live interactive Jeremy Kyle show. Last Mega Bus I was on two girls in tracksuits got escorted off the bus by security as their tickets were dated 30th May 2016 instead of 30th July 2016. This is what ensued:
Girl: But I booked it last week
Driver: You can’t book a ticket for the past….
Yes. Because if that were true I would have gone back in time and not booked this Mega Bus.
National Express: Comfort is slightly elevated, and I do stress slightly, by the fact that National Express have leather seats. Leather gives the illusion that you are somewhere classier or better yet pulled Danny from Grease. But let’s be honest, leather seats you may be sat on but nothing will change the fact that you are sat on a bus next to a bunch of people that don’t look like they run for the bus but do actually run for the bus, in a tracksuit and, Ugg boots. Brrrrr.
However, National Express should be commended for increasing comfort by prohibiting people to just the one suitcase and hand luggage, stipulating in the terms and conditions, that are as long as, according to my boyfriend, The Chilcot Enquiry, that ‘National Express is not a home removal service’. (Unpacks toaster.)
Whilst Mega Bus drivers are more likely to be on speed and be caught speeding, thus getting you to your destination as quickly as humanly possible….
National Express offers more buses a day to more specific destinations. Like Hell, sorry Hull.
Mega Bus: 5/10
National Express: 8/10
This category should really be under comfort but I think it deserves a separate category because, well, I’m the queen of this blog so I get to decide.
National Express coaches tend to be cold.
Mega Buses tend to be hot.
Which is why, in the winter I book Mega Bus. In the summer, I book National Express.
Both score a tepid 5/10
National Express: The drivers tend to be more professional. They wear a uniform and instead of hearing the actual driver speak on the tannoy as you set off, he just presses a button and the National Express voice over lady starts her recorded monologue which tells us to do things like fasten our seatbelts and endure, sorry, ‘enjoy the journey’. The VO also tells us to not do stuff like drink alcohol or eat smelly, hot foods like a Greg’s pickled egg mayo pasty.
This VO is ever so slick, the production values really are tip-top. But it’s a bit like going to a Britney concert and finding out that she lip syncs. A Live performance is so much more personable. The recorded National Express VO left me wondering what’s the drivers’ story? Is he a grumpy West Country old man who is counting down the days till his retirement or is a he a Manchunian cheeky chappy counting the hours until he can go down the pub? We don’t know this about National Express drivers. And I think we can all agree this is a sad thing. The National Express drivers ironically can’t (national) express themselves.
National Express: 4/10
Mega Bus: We know a little bit too much about mega bus men. With the lack of recorded voiceover we get told first-hand not to ‘shit in the toilet, only number 1’s please!’ Nice.
A recent journey I took with mega bus, a young mum with her baby and three kids sat down right at the front, behind the driver. The driver jumped up dramatically,
Driver: No kids……errr…………. no kids are allowed to sit at the front.
Driver: its ….illegal, yep its illegal, we cant have kids at the front! No kids. Next to the Driver. No!
Mum: Oh (moves)
Very smart. I’m pretty sure that isn’t an official rule but it was nice to see his personality. I sat back in my chair, looked pensively out the window and thought this driver hates kids. Which was, oddly comforting I thought as I smirked out the window.
In hindsight this was oddly comforting because it meant the noisy fuckers, sorry kids, not only moved away from the vicinity of the driver, but also away from me.*
*(I always sit 2nd row from the front, Window and pretend I’m asleep) Psychologically this is the seat that most people will walk past and also no one wants to have to wake anyone up, that means I get to sit on my own in peace.)
Mega bus: 8/10
By ‘Extra Services’, I’m not talking about motorway service stations or getting a hand job from the passenger next to you. What I mean is I’ve assessed both companies as to whether they offer any other incentive to go with them or not. E.g. a voucher off your next journey, a sleeping bag, free pillow, driving lessons etc.
National Express: A distinct advantage if you live in London is that some services stop in Hammersmith and Golders Green, not just Victoria. This is good if you live in Hammersmith or Golders Green. If you don’t well, sorry to rub that in your face.
National Express: 7/10
Mega Bus: For longer journeys e.g. London to Edinburgh, Mega Bus offer sleeper coaches with actual beds, well it’s more like a hammock, but hey you’re horizontal for a whole 8 hours which is beyond magical!! You only wake up when it turns a corner. You also get a complimentary muffin, juice and cup of coffee in the morning. The best way to describe it is a moving hostel, but if the moving hostel was delivering prison inmates. (Mega Bus Gold is the New Black) Everyone walks onto the bus in their pyjamas, (so it’s really no different to the regular mega bus) and everyone gets into their bed and goes to sleep and 8 hours later and feeling like you know the man above your bunk a little too well, you’re at your destination.
So that’s it!
That’s my assessment.
And the winner is (drum roll please)
Mega bus if you’re reading this and want to update your advertising campaign from Dara O’Brian to another just as successful comic who knows all about the news on a weekly basis, how about my face all over your buses? Like Carrie Bradshaw? No? OK.
National Express I still love you, please don’t leave me. I live near Hammersmith.
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