“The lady with the pink socks on upstairs - you are being watched by CCTV. I can see everything you're doing," the driver says for the second time, making me wonder how much attention he's paying to the road. This is the voice of the new and improved Megabus. Keen to dispel the outdated 80s' image their name conjures and disprove the popular misconception it's inferior to National Express, Megabus have finally made steps in the right direction and are maturing into a truly mega company.
This is the first coach journey I've made since permanently moving myself back to Leeds. Stuck in London's congestion, our vocal driver clearly aspires to be a comedian, making his presence felt: “Can someone lend me their helicopter?”
As I say goodbye to the south and its extortionately hiked prices (my favourite Greg's creation, 'The Spicy One', actually costs an additional 20 pence!), I'm amazed by the driver's next announcement, alerting us to the free Wi-Fi and power sockets the new double decker Megabuses now boast.
Even dramatically more expensive Leeds to London trains merely offer a token fifteen minutes of free surf time so I can't quite believe it when I'm able to browse e-mails for the entire five hour trip. Sure, as an alternative to train travel, the bus takes double the time but it's also a fraction of the price.
Rivaling National Express' Eurolines, Megabus is finally launching three new European destination routes (Brussels, Amsterdam and Paris) and in doing so, has clearly upped its game, almost matching the level of service offered on long-distance Peruvian coaches. And unlike National Express, overhead lights and ventilation actually work.
The driver's sharp wit punctuates an already long and delayed journey as he tells us “we'll be arriving into Sheffield tomorrow [with this traffic]” and once again warns the person who has removed their shoes to put them on: “you're gassing everybody!” - in turn reminding us, alongside creature comforts, Megabus have clearly improved on-board CCTV and Big Brother is indeed watching us, if only to poke fun.