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Megabus Review - Intercity Bus Travel for Modern Times

By Ma'ayan Cohen

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A self-admitted travel addict – in the last year and a half alone, I’ve visited ten different countries on four different continents – I tend to move around quite often and adore the discovery of it all. So, naturally, within a month of returning home to Southern California, I uprooted to New York, and within a week of my arrival, was on the road to Washington, D.C. There was a political conference in early March that I decided I had to be a part of, but that left me with only two hectic days to plan my transport, among other logistics. However, after briefly sifting through some unsubstantial websites, I fortunately stumbled upon Megabus.com and within less than five minutes, was staring at a few good options for my impulsive road trip. Unfortunately, I missed their  $1.00 ticket deals - yes, that’s right, every single route they offer starts as low as $1.00 - being only a couple of days from my travel date. But, the prices I did find were extremely affordable, less than twenty dollars each way. The question was, what could I expect for that low of an amount. I would soon realize the answer is plenty, though having just found my way back from a whole other kind of travel world – a crammed, 24-hour sleeping bus in Vietnam, a two-day slow boat in Laos, and in India, a skeleton of a bus, so that I was wedged for 12 hours between two broken seats – my expectations were conveniently low. I was also apprehensive about the seemingly vague address given for pick-up, actually just cross streets. As I neared the given intersection on the day of my trip, I was glad to find clear signs directing Megabus passengers and well, there really is just no way to miss a huge double-decker bus parked ahead, with Megabus.com strewn across its side in screaming blue and yellow. In-fact, its convenient street access is one of the reasons why Megabus can offer such low prices, says Megabus President and COO, Dale Moser, “we are a curbside operator, so overhead costs are kept to a minimum, and there is more flexibility to work with and for the customer.”

Serving over 75 cities from the Midwest and Northeast of the US and Canada, Megabus will take you to where you need to go (photo from Megabus.com)

Founded in 2006 by Stagecoach Group, through its subsidiary Coach USA, Megabus seems to have been their best idea yet. Through their modern intercity buses, they have already served more than 16 million people in over 75 cities from the Midwest and Northeast of the US and Canada. A recent 2011 study conducted by Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University claims that “the intercity bus was the sole major long-distance passenger transportation mode that grew appreciably in 2011,” and curbside operators like Megabus “grew at a particularly rapid rate … ” A major reason for that has been the flailing economy and rising fuel costs. As a result, a new sort of clientele is developing as well. On my trip, I found myself sitting amongst a range of people from seemingly varied socio-economic backgrounds. Additionally, Coach USA claims in a recent press release, motor coaches like Megabus “when filled to capacity, are on average seven times more energy-efficient than single-occupancy automobiles, releasing the least carbon dioxide per passenger mile when compared to any other mode of transportation.” Something more to consider when planning your next road trip.

Passengers waiting to board - the line was long, but rapidly dissolved (photo from Megabus.com)

“We believe we were one of the first to provide a different and innovative intercity travel concept,” says Moser. Indeed, they have transformed the industry as the first company to offer this particular mode of travel through Internet sales, and in the last six years, Megabus has turned the common bus into a modern mode of transportation, fitting to today’s highly technological generation. They are also the first to come out with a mobile app for their bus service, Moser states, “we have taken technology and made it part of our service.” Megabus not only offers reclining seats, but bathroom facilities, power outlets, free 3G WiFi, and professional drivers. The only disappointment was that the WiFi promised was not functioning on my roundtrip, though Megabus says they are currently upgrading their systems.

Comfortable reclining seats aboard Megabus, with just enough leg room and even a couple of tables for those who prefer

Megabus offers passengers conveniently placed power outlets

In this way, my travel continued, four and a half hours each way, from the thrill of NY to the bustle of DC, and exactly on time. There was only one five-minute stop in Baltimore, to pick up and drop off passengers. “We schedule our trips to be express,” says Moser, “we do the trip in the same amount of time as if you were in your own automobile.” Megabus also offers intermodal connectivity by functioning out of center city locations, another advantage for their customers. One constant Megabus rider sitting by me, a polite woman in her mid-fifties, said she’s rarely had any problems with Megabus and enjoys their straightforward service, simply “you get what you pay for … more bang for the buck”. I have to agree. Although, there were some minor technical issues, my experience was efficient, comfortable and just what I needed. Whether you are on a tight budget, environmentally conscious, or just need to save a few gas dollars, there are many reasons to use Megabus. As Moser says, “leave your car at home and come with us.”

A warm welcome to Washington, D.C.

For more information, visit www.megabus.com 

Published on Mar 20, 2012

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