Friday, May 1, 2015

My MegaBus Experience

Have you ever thought about riding a charter bus to a different city in the United States? 

Well, I never gave it a thought until I decided I wanted to visit my grandmother during my Spring Break.  I haven't heard about the MegaBus company until I saw it on the highway during a trip.  It was a huge blue double-decker bus with a advertisement for $1 fares.  I just stored it in my mind until about two months ago when I wanted to make a trip from Atlanta, GA to Memphis, TN.

I drive a 1997 Toyota 4-Runner....not the best vehicle since I get maybe 18 miles per gallon on a good tank.  Not to mention that the drive is 440 miles one way.....

My first instinct was to look at plane tickets.  I searched on Google Flights and couldn't find a thing!  Actually, everything that I did find was around $400!  Definitely not worth it.  But was it worth the wear & tear on my car?  I finally remembered about MegaBus and looked up their prices.

I couldn't believe what I saw.  $47 round trip on the megabus... $47!!!!  Now, I couldn't get gas that cheap with my car.  I made sure the dates and times were good with my grandma and purchased the tickets from the megabus website.  The actual price was $24 from ATL to MEM, and $21 from MEM to ATL with a $1.50 fee for both trips, so it ended up being $47.  I looked at greyhound as well, but I didn't like the times they were offering, and megabus was a few bucks cheaper.


My dad was kind enough to drop me off at the Atlanta MegaBus stop at 6am in the morning.  When we arrived at the stop, it was like the airport-- people jumping out of cars and grabbing their bags and going to the side of the road.  Traffic was definitely a little crazy since the road the stop is off of is a active street with a stop light.  I jumped out of the car and walked towards the MARTA area.  I asked one of the megabus workers where my bus was, and they told me that it wasn't here yet.  They then pointed me in the direction where to wait.  
There were two lines waiting-- one for Charlotte, NC and the other for Memphis, TN.  Now, the bus wasn't suppose to leave until 6:20, and it was only 6:00....
We waited a little longer, then the bus arrived.  The riders were respectful to each other-- there was no "line-jumping."  I finally got on the bus, and the lower section was full.  I went to the upper level, and grabbed a seat by the window.  I had my jacket and bag with me that had a book and snacks for the ride.  Shortly after, the bus began to start and a lady jumped in the empty seat that was next to mine-- you could tell she was running late.  The bus left at 6:27am and was going directly to Birmingham, AL.  Once we got on the road, the driver gave us a quick safety lesson and kept the overhead lights on; once he was finished, he turned the lights off, and most everyone went to sleep.  
We arrived in Birmingham too early, the bus driver said, in fact, a whole hour early!  He was kind enough to stop at a Love's gas station for us to walk around for 20 minutes.  The Love's had a McDonald's inside so I grabbed myself a biscuit since it was only 9:30am EST.  We got back on the bus and stopped at Birmingham.  It took about ten minutes for the people to get off and the new passengers to get on.  Once we got on the road again, the driver told us that we were going to stop in Tupelo, MS for a thirty minute lunch break-- something I wasn't expecting.
If you haven't been at a Love's gas station, they have pretty much everything.  They had a McDonald's and Subway attached.  They also sold fresh fruit, vegetable drinks, granola, chips, and soda pop.  I didn't eat anything during that break since we were only 1hr 30min away from Memphis, but I did walk around outside.
We arrived in Memphis about ten minutes early.  My grandma was there waiting for me.  It took the driver a good 5 minutes to unload some of the bags, then dismissed us from the bus.  

The ride was about 7hr 30mins total.  I spent most of the time reading, looking out the window, and playing games on my phone.  The bus had wifi-- it worked for the most part, but it did get slow when a lot of people were using it.  The seats also had power plugs directly in front of you.  Both of them worked at my seat, but I didn't need to use them.  I do wish there was a cup holder-- there is a small mesh pocket on the seat in front of you, but it's not made for bottles.  I didn't talk to my seat mate-- she slept the entire trip.  And all of the passengers on my bus were all types of ages and ethnicities.  The bus was pretty full, which I think a single mega bus holds 88 people!  The ride was pretty smooth.  I wish that I brought a pillow and some headphones, but hey, rookie mistake! 


I left Memphis at 9:30am on a Friday.  The bus was definitely packed, and I once again sat on the upper level next to the window.  While waiting for the bus, another passenger told me to never waste my money on the lower level table seat (which is an extra $1), and to always try to get a reserved seat on the upper level (extra $5).  She said that the seats are a little bigger, you get the front row window view, and more leg room (which is big enough to set her guitar).  Maybe next time I go I'll buy the upgraded seat, but I really didn't know if it was worth it or not. 
Anyways, I thought I was going to get the row to myself, until an older lady (in her 40s?) sat next to me.  She was jamming out to some gospel music and browsing her ipad the whole time.  On the way back, the megabus had very spotty wifi.  I actually never got it to work.  Both of the power plus worked, but my seatmate used them both for herself.  I ended up reading the whole time and looking out the window.  We once again stopped in Tupelo for lunch.  We got back on the bus and started heading to Birmingham.  It was raining and some traffic, but it didn't delay our time.  We actually arrived in Atlanta 30 minutes early; however, a majority of the passenger's rides weren't there yet.
It felt like the ride back home was slower, but I think that was because I was going home.

MegaBus route map from Wikipedia


-I had a good experience both ways.  The bus back to ATL didn't have good wifi so that sorta stunk, but I did have a book and games to keep me busy.
-The bus only stopped twice- at Birmingham and Tupelo.
-The bus stayed on schedule which was nice.
-I didn't use the restroom that was on the bus, so I don't know how clean it was.

-For $47, I would definitely ride it again.  Riding the MegaBus is a great eco-friendly way to travel.  Some trips have overnight rides if you're into that; you could also save on a hotel this way.  I think more people should consider travelling with the MegaBus.  It does cut down on the fossil fuels you use when you travel long distance.  If you have someone to pick you up at the bus stop, that's great!  Otherwise taxis will come and go at the bus stops.   

** I think I covered everything.  Please let me know if you have any other questions about my experience!

MegaBus Website
MegaBus Wikipedia
Google Flights

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