Megabus will offer reserved seating options to California travelers this fall, but there's a catch for riders at its Burbank location: The option includes arrivals to the city, not from.
The low cost city-to-city transit doesn't have adequate staffing to ensure riders promised seats out of Burbank, said Mike Alvich, vice president of marketing and public relations for Megabus.com and Coach USA.
The Burbank stop, located at the Metrolink Station on North Front Street, opened last August.
For now, riders traveling to Burbank — from cities such as San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose — can take advantage of the seating program. Reservations come at an additional cost of $3, $5 and $7. Every Megabus comes styled with 10 leather-esque seats on each floor of the double-decker bus. Bus drivers will have manifestoes of seating arrangements for each stop, Alvich said.
And there's no limit to how many of the 10 seats travelers can request. The option is available on select routes and times, and valid only on the scheduled trip, according to a news release from Megabus.
"We make it affordable for people to travel," Alvich said. "And now, we make it more personalized."
Alvich said the company doesn't release statistics on riders by city for competitive reasons, but noted Megabus has been "well-received" by Californians.
Fernando Salazar, 53, stood among 10 others waiting for a Megabus to arrive Friday afternoon. The San Francisco native uses the service to travel to Sacramento and Southern California. He passed the time playing a few notes on his Mexican flag-colored accordion.
Salazar has never used the coveted seats.
"Will I try it? Maybe, why not?" he said. "I like to sleep when I travel."
Ranjitha Kannambadi, a graduate student at San Jose State University, said she would give the program a try, noting her preference for window seating. The 25-year-old was traveling from Porter Ranch after a weeklong vacation.
Rolling out the program came after Megabus received positive feedback on the seats from not just riders, but staff. Some riders would wait more than an hour to guarantee one of the coveted seats. In May, Megabus initiated the program on the east coast and Canada. Now, it's expanded to 30 additional cities across the nation such as Los Angeles, Riverside and Las Vegas.
Affordable travel prices, not the seats, gave 21-year-old Chase Hilt a reason to join Salazar at the bus stop. Hilt, of Sherman Oaks, planned a trip to San Francisco to visit a friend for the weekend. It would be his first time on the Megabus. He usually travels by train.
Hilt had not heard of the reserved seat program , but said he would try it the next time he travels.
"It makes sense to offer it for comfort. And the prices are reasonable," he said.
The reserved seating program kicks off Sept. 10. As of last week, Megabus has allowed travelers to make reservations for trips on that date and beyond.