ATHENS, Ga. -- The popular Megabus company is betting that University of Georgiastudents and others are going to want a $1 bus ride between Athens and Atlanta.

That's $1, one-way, plus a 50 cent booking fee.

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The new route started Wednesday.

"Yeah, it should be very popular," said the bus operator, Wendell Whitaker.

Whitaker, a former Atlanta police officer, had just one passenger on the first, Wednesday evening run from Athens to Atlanta.

He figures word will spread.

"The customers will definitely come," he said. "We know that it will be a wonderful attraction for all the students, and not only students but the professional people who commute every day from the City of Atlanta and Athens."

"We've found it takes a year to get the word out about a new route," Megabus Director of Operations Bryony Chamberlain told 11Alive's Jon Shirek. "We start slow and stick with it" as new riders find out about the route.

The Athens-Atlanta bus makes three trips a day, each way, for now, between the multi-model transit center at 775 East Broad Street. in downtown Athens, and the MARTA Civic Center rail and bus station on West Peachtree Street in Atlanta.

Buses leave Athens for Atlanta at 7 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 6:30 p.m. Buses leave Atlanta for Athens at 11 a.m., 3:45 p.m., and 7:15 pm.

Passengers get the $1 fare only if they make an on-line reservation in advance. The fares are higher for customers whomake a reservation soon before departing.

"The earlier you make the reservation, the better the price,"Whitaker said.

Initially, the Megabus online reservation system was offering the $1 fare even for last-minute reservations.

"For the price, it's very economical," said UGA Student Jamal Releford, taking his first ride on Megabus. "You just hop on the bus and get to where you need to go for a small price. Really right up my ally."

There aren't that many options to get between Athens and Atlanta, apart from driving yourself. There's Greyhound, which costs $24 one way and makes just one tripa day, each way. And there's a shuttle service that takes passengers from Athens to Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport for $34.

Megabus offers AC outlets, free Wi-Fi, and, like all other buses, it uses "HOT lanes" all the way.

And Wednesday night's trip took 90 minutes, on the nose.

For more information, visit Megabus.com.

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