I booked my National Express tickets in London, after submitting my Belarus visa application, so the fares are not as cheap as they could be. Nevertheless, it was still the cheapest way back to London.
National Express departs conveniently from Sheffield Interchange just 3 minutes away from the railway station, as compared to Meadowhall which is about a 15 minute drive, 11 minute train ride or 25 minute tram ride away.
I got on the 6am bus from Sheffield which would get me into London at around 10.10am. Not that it matters in Sheffield, but the bus does run with a service number of 560. It’s negligible to the average passenger though, as they will call for passengers to London rather than for bus 560.
The interior of the coach. The seat is more ergonomic than the previous Megabus I took northbound, and the power socket is located just in front of you, between each seat, so no hunting for the socket for the first two minutes of the journey.
For better interior photos, click here.
The bus arrives in London around 15 minutes late from schedule, but traffic was pretty bad when entering the city. I got off at the earlier stop Marble Arch, which was slightly more convenient to access the Belarus Embassy by bus from, and it was a shorter walk to a Tube station if you needed one than Victoria Coach Station.
Now, the great Megabus vs. National Express comparison. Which of it is better?
Megabus and National Express are the UK’s two biggest coach companies with the widest networks (not counting specialised shorter routes like those to airports) and are each other’s rivals on the price war game.
I would say, assuming the price, timings and departure and arrival points are the same, go for National Express.
The seats are more comfortable and all of their buses are single-deck, which means lesser passengers are on board. While National Express has fares starting from £5 rather than just £1, the reality is that dynamic fares make these advertisements almost negligible when booking close to your departure date.
The breaking deal for my journey though, was the location of the terminal. As mentioned above, National Express departs from Sheffield Interchange rather than Meadowhall. During my search, Megabus’s fare was £9 + £0.50 booking fee whereas National Express was £12 + £1 booking fee. With a £3.50 price difference, the more expensive fare was still cheaper as I would have to take a longer taxi journey (thanks to the early departure time) to Meadowhall to catch the Megabus, resulting in the same, if not higher cost for the whole journey.
Also, I would not repeat the same travel experience on this trip if I try both companies.
If for your journey, the price, timings and departure and arrival points are not the same, use your own discretion.