After travelling up to London on National Express recently I was pleased to see that their coaches have recently been updated. The velour seats replaced by comfortable leather ones and the addition of wifi for any traveller who has a laptop of wifi enabled mobile phone.
This is an obvious response to Greyhounds offering thats recently come to the south shores of the UK, running from Souhampton and Portsmouth to London on a regular basis. Today I’m on Greyhound and the service is very similar.
Journey times between Southampton and the capital are fractionally quicker on the Greyhound as they take a slightly different route to National Express and the journey is made more pleasant as Greyhound provide more legroom for a 6’2″ person to sit comfortably. Because of the added legroom, its also possible to recline your seat further and whilst a small point, I would imagine that this makes a big difference when trying to catch a bit of shuteye.
Fares on both are also very competitive, much more competitive than the train which would normally cost me in excess of £35 to get a return to the capital. My fare today on Greyhound cost just under £16.
What’s interesting is the percieved value of the wifi connection on both services. Both National Express and Greyhound have routers onboard their coaches which in turn are connected to one of the national mobile network providers. In the case of Greyhound I believe this is Vodafone.
The coverage up the M3 corridoor should be quite good with some odd sports where a decent signal cannot get through, but many people now have bundles on the mobile phones allowing them to use their mobile directly on their providers network to access the internet so Wifi access is possibly quite a clever marketing ploy for some of us that crave the cradling arms of the internet and all it bountiful riches.
What is nice on the Greyhound is the charge points for you mobile and laptop PCs (National Express do not currently offer these) allowing you to charge you gadgets as you travel – a great idea especially for power hungry devices such as the iPhone.
One small and minor request I would make is to ask both coach services to provide bottled water. I don’t mind paying for it and the last thing on my mind this morning at 5:30am was to remember to pack some liquid refreshment.