The Crown Princess of the Megabus

The Megabus Man

The upper deck of the Megabus is just like the upper deck of a Boeing 747, except no food and beverage, no plush seating, and no piano – but other than that – it is EXACTLY the same!!

Okay, maybe not exactly, the Megabus is definitely squarer and flies a lot lower.  Nonetheless, the Megabus was fun.  Over last weekend, I conducted a “new-trends-in-travel” experiment and relocated my office to an eastbound Megabus.  It boasts free WiFi, seat-side plugs, cheap tickets and no bag fees.  I had a laptop, Droid and XM radio – all the tech connections a roaming executive could want.  Get on the bus at 815AM, work all day, and get off in Pittsburgh at 8:20PM, a full day’s work as we rolled east.

I scored the front row seat on the upper deck – something that others had warned against after hearing about one megacrush when a Megabus driver underestimated the height of the coach.  http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2010/09/megabus_crash_survival_depende.html

The View from the Front Seat

Not one to let a little death or dismemberment dissuade me from taking in the view – the front row seat was great – cruising by farmlands and forests across Indiana and Ohio.

Megabus is an interesting model – sell some cheap seats first then make up the difference with the later bookers, similar to the airline pricing models.  Unlike the airlines, the  terminal is nothing but a Megabus sign attached to a street sign – no lockers, no benches, just a couple of megamanagers lurking around the sign.  The 50 people with suitcases milling about give you an added clue as to where to stand.  Talk about the benefits of  low overhead – good for prices, not so good for bridges.

The ride was uneventful, my bus mates were all well behaved and I was able to work my way across the states without the herky jerky stages of air travel such as undressing, scanning, get on the plane, turn off your stuff, turn on your stuff, etc.   Local chairside power (when it works) is much more convenient than those poor power-hungry travelers you see strewn about the airport, sitting cross-legged in any hallway or alcove plugging into “the juice.”

I know some people thought I was crazy to go bussing, and granted, I did fly home because another 11 hours in a bus to arrive home near midnight was not so appealing, but overall I would recommend the Megabus – if you have a sense of adventure.  Here are a few hits and misses from the experiment:

Megabusts:

  • No refunds – and not very clearly stated.
  • Wi-fi was not operating on either of my buses and seatside power only worked on one of my buses.
  • Nobody answers the customer (lack of) support line – just a choice to press some number between 1 and 99 for support answers.  Really – it goes to 99.  Granted it skips from the teens to 99 – but it does seem like a bit of a black hole…
  • The reservation identifier is about 90 letters and numbers long – makes me appreciate how wonderful those little airline record locators are.

Megaplus:

  • No long security lines, just show your receipt and get on the bus.
  • The up-close view of a few crumpled overpasses that must have been whacked by inattentive truck or bus drivers – almost makes you want to duck – but not a scratch and a great new view.
  • Great prices if you book in advance.
  • Quick trip with limited stops – only 4 stops in 500 miles.
  • Much better than driving!  Even if you drive a fun car.  http://ksqrd.com/

We hit some construction traffic coming into Cleveland and they were reversing the lanes.  Three pickup trucks led our bus and 50 other vehicles in a slow procession into town – it almost felt like a parade.  I could not resist doing the royal wave from the front row seat of the coach.  A few of the construction workers noticed and one even waved back to the Crown Princess of the Megabus.

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