A Budget Bus Rider’s Worst Fears

Megabus in Chicago
compujeramey, via Flickr

There’s a moment when every frequent budget bus rider tells him or herself, “you get what you pay for.” This morning that thought was likely running through riders’ minds when a MegaBus hit an overpass at New York’s Port Authority Bus Terminal. The double-decker bus was too tall for the entrance clearance, causing the bus to get wedged into the space. Two people suffered minor injuries, and the driver got a ticket and is being investigated.

Budget bus companies like MegaBus ply the Northeast Corridor and other parts of the country, offering rates as low as $1 (if you get lucky and book really far in advance) between cities like New York, Boston, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. The more usual one-way fares of $25-$30 are a steal when compared to Amtrak‘s prices for the same routes, and if all goes smoothly many of the bus trips take about the same amount of time as the train.

That’s if all goes smoothly.While no means of transportation is incident-free, some of the things budget bus travelers have to contend with include:

  • Buses that show up late
  • Buses that show up hours late
  • Buses that break down
  • Buses that are overbooked
  • Buses with no working bathroom/air conditioning/lights/outlets/Wi-Fi
  • Buses whose drivers get lost
  • Buses whose drivers need to pull over on the side of the road for a smoke
  • Buses whose drivers flag down another driver on the road to switch buses
  • Passengers who eat smelly food/get really drunk/sleep on their seat mates/talk loudly on the phone/pass out in awkward places on the bus
  • Buses that catch on fire
  • Buses that get in accidents
  • Buses that hit pedestrians (though that particular line is currently not in service)
  • And of course, traffic

Have a bus horror story to share? Post it in the comments.