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.

Budget travel: Megabus is giving away 200,000 free tickets

budget travel Because transportation is often one of the most expensive parts about traveling, it’s always nice to get a free ride. And for people traveling around the United States and Toronto from January 4 through March 1, 2012, Megabus is giving away 200,000 free seats.

Megabus, which launched in April of 2006, is already known for it’s budget-friendly prices and offering rides that start at $1 when booked on the internet. The company services nearly 50 cities through the United States and Canada from five major hubs which include New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Toronto. For those who value comfort, Megabus’ single and double decker buses offer panoramic windows, free wi-fi, and at-seat plug ins.

To reserve a free ride, use the promo code GOFREE when booking. The offer is based on availability and if you can travel midweek and/or on some of the more popular routes you shouldn’t have a problem taking advantage of the offer.

MegaBus introduces sleeper bus overnight Glasgow-London

sleeper busEver wanted to travel like a rock star? Now in the UK, you can travel on a sleeper bus between Scotland and England and pretend you’re on tour. This week, while budget transportation company MegaBus announced new routes in the southern United States, with free tickets to celebrate), they also introduced a new sleeper bus service between Glasgow and London.

The 400-mile journey is a bit slower by bus than train (just under 8 hours vs. 7 hours, 10 minutes on ScotRail’s overnight service), but it’s cheaper, with fares from 1 to 40 GBP each way. Along with free wi-fi, coffee and tea service, and a plug in each berth for laptops and cell phones, each passengers gets an amenity pack with toothbrush and toothpaste, an eye mask, luggage label, and bottle of water. The 24 beds each have a pillow, duvet, and blanket and there are 24 regular seats as well if you want to spend part of the journey upright.

The BBC took a ride on the new bus and reported that while the berths lack headroom, they are still more comfortable for an overnight journey than a regular seat. One passenger said, “I found myself waking up in a panic, very aware that the ceiling was directly above my head, and I found it very uncomfortable” but still said she’d ride again.

Have you ever ridden on a sleeper bus? Tell us how you slept in the comments.

Photo courtesy MegaBus.

Travel in the southern United States for free with Megabus

megabus gives free transportationWho doesn’t love free travel? With a new hub in Atlanta, Georgia, Megabus is giving away 10,000 free seats to travelers using their new routes during trips taking place November 16 to December 16, 2011. The eleven cities included in the new route leaving from Atlanta include:

  • Birmingham, Alabama
  • Mobile, Alabama
  • Montgomery, Alabama
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Gainesville, Florida
  • Jacksonville, Florida
  • Orlando, Florida

To take advantage of the offer, just enter the promo code ATL10K when reserving your seat online.

Megabus branches out to Cape Cod

If you’re still planning a summer escape and want to save some gas money, here’s some good news: Megabus will now send some of its blue, double-decker buses to Cape Cod. Known for offering fares as low as $1 and having free Wi-Fi onboard, Megabus will now make two daily round trips from New York to the Ocean Street Docks in Hyannis, Massachusetts (with a stop in Providence along the way). From the docks, travelers can hit a nearby beach, find sailing and fishing charters, or connect to island ferries for trips to places such as Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard.

Fares are still up for grabs as low as $5 in July, but the cheap seats probably won’t last long. Travelers who don’t live in New York can connect to the hub from locations all along the East Coast and in some Midwestern and Southern states – just be prepared for a potentially long road trip (the route from New York to Providence alone takes over five hours).

If taking to the skies is a better option, JetBlue also began seasonal service between New York and Martha’s Vineyard last week. The airline will send up to five weekly roundtrip flights on the route throughout the summer, with roundtrip fares being offered for as low as $147.

[Photo by Laura Padgett / Flickr]