As an economically challenged college student who experiences occasional bouts of wanderlust, I’m always interested in cheap opportunities to explore the world around me.
Recently, I discovered Megabus, a bus company that advertises “low-cost intercity travel with prices starting from as little as $1.” After doing some research, I found I could book a one-day round-trip for two from East Lansing to Chicago for only $16, so I grabbed one of my more adventurous friends, and we set off for the Windy City.
Having just returned from our trip, I can’t say I’d recommend Megabus to people who have high standards in travel or low tolerance toward ineptitude in general.
The biggest issue we had with Megabus was punctuality. While the bus from East Lansing to Chicago was fairly prompt, the bus for the return trip was scheduled to pick us up in Chicago at 11:59 p.m., and it didn’t end up arriving until 12:20 a.m.
Since Megabus is apparently too cost-efficient (i.e. cheap) to build its own waiting facilities, we were forced to wait on the sidewalk outside of Union Station, keeping warm by artfully dodging panhandlers and the mentally unstable.
At the other Megabus stops on our route, Amtrak seemed to take pity and shared their waiting areas with Megabus customers.
Perhaps we would have been able to look past the waiting situation if our drivers would have been friendly (or, at least competent) people.
The first driver was very condescending, carefully explaining how to properly read our eight-digit ticket confirmation numbers so he’d understand them and yelling at passengers who didn’t know what to do with their luggage.
Ten minutes into the trip, the same gent took the wrong exit.
Instead of continuing to take the incorrect exit and working back to the correct exit in a legal and sane way, the driver immediately slammed on his brakes (thankfully, no one was behind us) and proceeded to drive the bus over a patch of grass and back onto the freeway.
He was nice enough to say over the intercom that this was “his bad,” though.
Our other driver didn’t seem to have much of a personality, but I imagine driving a bus full of perpetually irritated riders across barren stretches of Indiana and southern Michigan in the nighttime could suck the soul out of anyone.
Even after all of this, I don’t completely regret taking Megabus.
At $16, it was way cheaper than any other mode of transportation could have been. The buses were fairly clean, and we didn’t have any major problems with the other passengers.
If you want to try Megabus for yourself, keep the following in mind: You get what you pay for, and you’re not paying much.