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I would prefer not to use National Express. Conditions on coaches can be awful, in my experience. I wish we had something like Polskibus in the UK.

Are there any alternatives? I mainly use them to get between airports and Birmingham when it's dark.

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Welcome to travel.SE. Can you edit your question to be a little more specific as to what it is you're trying to do where and when? As it stands your question looks more like a rant. – Karlson Apr 29 '13 at 19:34
'better' is subjective, so I've edited your question to make it more structured and just to ask for objective alternatives. Have added an answer as well, hope that helps. – Mark Mayo Apr 29 '13 at 20:27
Have you considered taking a train? Usually a lot more comfortable than a bus, and when booked in advance can be quite good value too. – Krist van Besien Apr 30 '13 at 9:47
@KristvanBesien Usually we travel too early or too late for trains. – cja Apr 30 '13 at 10:24
up vote 8 down vote accepted

There are a few other companies in the UK, although none are particularly great - it's not huge distances so they go for packing you in, more than anything.

  • Megabus - if you get tickets well in advance, they can be incredibly cheap. They also have a sleeper service from London to Glasgow/Edinburgh.
  • Eurolines - although as they're an associate company of National Express you may not like them - but they run coach services to / from London with various cities in Northern Ireland, the Ireland and continental Europe. Advance ticketing is required
  • Greyhound. Previously synonymous with pain and long distance, I've been using them again this year around North America, and they're sooo nice now - extra leg room, wifi and power points at your seats on the new buses - which has been most big routes that I've been on.

Bonus - EasyBus - although only in London at present, if you get it in advance, tickets can be very cheap to the airports, from as little as two pounds.

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There are also some other companies who operate long distance coaches, but only for one region. The Oxford Bus Company have excellent buses - wifi, power, decent legroom etc - but that only helps between Oxford and London, Heathrow and Gatwick... – Gagravarr Apr 29 '13 at 21:18

Another altenative maybe to consider the train, if of course you can find a cheap ticket or one that is similar to the price you would pay on either National Express or the other companies mentioned in Mark's answer.

Cheap train tickets is a resource zone for finding cheaper train tickets. It's packed with hidden tips and tricks for cheap rail fares.

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Usually we travel too early or too late for trains. – cja May 1 '13 at 11:03
@cja Ah shame, might be helpful for future use however. – Simon May 1 '13 at 11:09

Here's one more, serving the Birmingham area which you seem to be interested in:

Thandi Express

Thandi Express runs daily scheduled services between the following towns - Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Coventry, Luton, Barking/Illford, East Ham/Stratford/Manor Park (East London), Woolwich, Charlton, Dartford, Gravesend/Rochester/Strood/Gillingham (Kent) , Southall, Slough (West London), Leicester, Nottingham/Derby, Sheffield, Bradford/Leeds/Huddersfield/Dewsbury.

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