The MegaBus Diaries: What to Expect As Told by an Experienced Rider

One of my all too familiar sights is that of a giant blue double-decker bus wheeling its way into the Atherton Street Walmart parking lot. Affordable travel is a must for the budget-minded college student, and my travel of choice is the MegaBus.

This semester alone, I have traveled from State College to Pittsburgh via the Coach USA owned MegaBus 7 times. Over the years, I have racked up over thirty MegaBus trips to State College, Pittsburgh or Philadelphia with round trip service rarely breaking $30.

Being an avid bus rider has allowed me to experience the pros and the woes of inexpensive travel. It’s safe to say that with MegaBus, you get what you pay for.

The Pros

MegaBus is cheap. The farther in advance you purchase the ticket, the less you are going to pay. I’ve snagged tickets from State College to Pittsburgh for a mere $5. When I traveled from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, I purchased a round-trip ticket for about $60. Flights from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia are sold around $200. Other bus lines such as Greyhound offer prices around $60 for only one way. I have yet to find a better deal than MegaBus. The company advertises that you can get tickets for as low as $1, but I haven’t found that to be the case yet.

MegaBus is surprisingly comfortable. The seats are tall and curved for back and neck support. I’ve found it easy to snooze on long journeys. Unless the person next to you forgot their deodorant that day or falls asleep on your shoulder (it will happen), you can expect a bearable MegaBus experience.

Both levels of the bus are lined with huge windows. Some buses even have windows covering the roof of the upper level. Windows make a full bus feel less claustrophobic and make for a great view.

The Woes

Who thought the MegaBus logo was a good idea? Plastered hugely on the back and side of the unmistakable blue bus is their mascot: A pink-skinned, heavily rounded bus driver dressed in a bright yellow uniform looking down on you with a menacing smile. I would think there are better ways to represent a bus fleet.

If you plan on traveling with fragile luggage, don’t. MegaBus workers load your luggage into a compartment for you. With miserable attitudes, they literally throw your bags into the compartment and just as heavily back onto the concrete sidewalk. If I dig out a broken hair straightener or cracked perfume bottle one of these days, I’m will find you, MegaBus. I have also had two experiences where my luggage comes out of the compartment damp and smelly. Luckily, the mysterious stench comes off my belongings with a wash cycle.

MegaBus is hardly ever on time and the stops are typically uncovered. The stop in Pittsburgh is sheltered by the David L. Lawrence convention center, but the one in State College is out in the open Walmart parking lot. Be prepared to stand in all weather conditions while you wait for your late bus. And when I say late, I mean hours. I have had buses delayed up to an hour, but my best friend stood at the Philadelphia bus stop for a whopping three hours past departure time waiting for her bus to show up.

Pro or woe? You decide

MegaBus offers free Wi-Fi and power outlets. These are awesome for getting ahead on work, charging your cell phone or passing the time with a movie… on the rare occurrence they actually work.

The MegaBus has an overpowering smell of cleaning product. Out of my many trips, I have only found myself feeling sick from the stench 3 times. The farther you sit from the onboard bathroom located on the first floor, the better off you are. The odor is less than desirable, but could be a pro because you know you’re traveling clean.


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