We Made An Intern Ride The Megabus To See What All The To-Do Is About.
You've probably seen Megabus' iconic blue double-deckers around downtown recently. Or maybe you've seen their ads promising fares as low as a $1.
With prices so low, we had to ask: Just how good could the service possibly be? Instead of just pondering aloud, we made one of our interns take a round trip to Austin to find out. Here's his review.
I booked my trip a couple weeks in advance, so, yeah, I was able to get a really low fare. Like, really low. I paid just $2 for my trip to Austin and a single buck for the return trip. So, it's very possible to get those absurdly low, advertised rates. But you really do have to book in advance if you want these deals. When I checked in on the going costs for my trip on the morning of my departure, the round-trip fare was running $40. That's still a pretty awesome deal, of course, just not the absolutely insane one you can get if you book early. There is, of course, something of a downside to booking your Megabus trips so early, though: By the time my trip came, the departures for both legs of the trip had been changed from their original times.
From Dallas to Austin.
All Megabus departures from Dallas leave from DART's CBD East Transfer Center on Olive Street. I got there about 20 minutes before my bus' updated departure time (I'd been to the time-change via an email alert from Megabus), but you could probably cut things a little closer if you had to. Things moved fairly efficiently from that point onward. Within 10 minutes of my bus' arrival, the entire line of passengers had boarded — and, if you've ever taken a Greyhound before, you know that this is no small feat. Then, once you're on the bus, you have to make a choice: There are no assigned seats, and you get to choose whether to sit in the lower or upper deck. It's not really a tough decision, though; the top deck is where it's at. There are windows throughout the upper deck's roof, and the front of the bus is all glass, too. So, from my seat in the first row, I had a pretty sweet panoramic view throughout my the entire trip. Of course, on the Dallas to Austin route, this is interesting for all of five minutes; traveling southbound of I-35E between North and Central Texas is basically the platonic ideal of boring. Still, I could imagine this being pretty cool on other trips. And, even once you tire of the view, you have other options — Megabus' best amenities, really. There are power outlets throughout the bus, and free Wi-Fi to boot. Personally, I used these resources to power up my laptop and catch up on Mad Men, swapping out the existential dread and despair of a typical bus trip for the on-screen existential dread and despair of Don, Peggy and Joan. Three episodes in, the bus rolled in to Austin, dropping everyone off right on the edge UTâ€™s campus.
From Austin to Dallas.
The return trip was basically the exact reverse of the outbound one. I had no issues with boarding or seating, caught another episode of Mad Men and then indulged in a nap. Sleeping on the bus was almost as easy as sleeping at home — although that probably had something to do with my late excursions the night before, to be honest. But we did arrive in Dallas about 20 minutes earlier than expected, and that was pretty cool.
Judging from my admittedly limited experience, I'll say this: Megabus provides an absolutely terrific service. Honestly, if your destination is served by Megabus, you'd be nuts at this point to go the Greyhound route instead. It compares favorably to air travel as well — at least for short hauls. Here's my point: If you've got something to do in Austin, Houston or San Antonio, you should definitely consider taking a Megabus. Just be sure to stock your laptop with media beforehand. And maybe bring a pillow along, too.