If you're slightly annoyed that Stagecoach has increased the price of its weekly Megarider ticket to £10 you may be pleased to hear you can still get your unlimited Stagecoach and Magic Bus kicks at the 9.00 by buying online. The Monthly Megarider will be available from the 31st of March at £36 (the equivalent of £9.00 per week).
There's obviously demand for this ticket. We've been inundated with visits from people searching Google for 'Manchester Megarider', 'Monthly Megarider' and such like in the past few days. Maybe these people did as posters on Stagecoach Manchester buses are suggesting, and visited www.buymymegarider.com. Unfortunately, doing so simply takes you to a white page with 'Server 3' written in the corner. Sure the service doesn't start til next week, but they could at least have a live website at the URL they're advertising!
So, how does buying a Megarider online work? We had a look at buying a Kettering Megarider from the Stagecoach online shop to get an idea. Kettering passengers get the option of a 4 week Megarider for £36 or a 13 week version for £110. They then choose the date you want the ticket to start from. Here's where it starts to get a bit 'last century'. They post the ticket to you! Surely in the 21st century there's a more elegant solution?
If Stagecoach had a smartcard system in place you'd be able to top it up online and then use it on the bus like Transport for London's Oystercard. In Japan, the DoCoMo mobile phone network has a system that allows people make payments on the bus using barcode reader on their phone. Even Stagecoach's own Megabus coach service doesn't require tickets to be posted to you.
Obviously, the simple solution of printing the Megarider out once its bought is out of the question. Megarider forgery is a bad enough problem as it is. We once shared a house with a bloke who forged Megariders. They were scarily accurate, but we were too scared to use them even when we were skint (ah, student days!).
If the Manchester solution (once the site's live) is to post the ticket out we don't think we'll bother. The Kettering site lists Recorded Delivery (a must if you want your ticket to turn up on time... or at all) as being £1.50. That would mean Manchester passengers' saving of £4 per month by buying monthly is reduced to just 2.50p. For that saving, what's the point? Still, we'll reserve final judgment for when full details emerge.
( Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/people/laptoppingpong/ )