If you are driving or riding along and a huge pink-faced man driver is in front of or beside you, you are having a Megabus encounter. The Megabus road phenomenon has hit cities across the country, touting cheap fares and amenities such as cup holders, power outlets and WiFi. The shiny buses in blue, gold, yellow, and pink have the upper story and the lower story – which can hold more passengers. New, clean, sleek, and comfortable, they make for an excellent riding experience. I tried an upper deck seat, and a lower deck seat and they are nice and spacious.
A Vanhool production of Belguim, the two-storied buses are finished with a glossy surface. According to Larry Planchno’s June 2012 National Bus Trader article, Van Hool recently celebrated 65 years of factory production of commercial vehicles and buses. It was nice to ride in a bus with a good solid history of sound construction.
The service is so new in this country that many of the depots are temporary set-ups rather than structures. That does not deter riders. They line up under tents, purchase tickets outside or in nondescript buildings. Expectant riders show no signs of missing the competition’s free-standing bus depot building structures with chairs a-plenty.
One depot was hard to find with a mere address. Travelers departing from the Dallas/Ft Worth area have to use GPS or have good knowledge of Grand Prairie’s layout, or they may not find the departure area. I missed the last bus out on a Sunday night because my friend and I could not find the depot.
The same applies to Austin, Texas; where the temporary set-up is at UT’s Dobie Mall parking lot. When I talked to several long-term Austinites they told me that they were not familiar with the address provided on-line (it was also on my ticket).
One person, who drives all over the city for Austin’s Capital Metro buses finally told me that I would be arriving at Dobie Mall. Without that information, I had no frame of reference except the street intersections.
The handy website and toll-free numbers are great for basic information. However, I was not able to reach a live representative. It may be that they will add them as their operations expands. They may also assume that everyone has access to GPS. It was because I could not reach a live person that I had no idea exactly where the bus departure and arrival locations were. This was a tiny drawback.
One reason why many riders may be glad to overlook the minor inconvenience is that the fares start as low as $1.00; with a .50 booking fee. I was happy to pay a very nominal and competitive fee for my ticket.
I traveled from Dallas to Austin in under 4 hours and paid only $12. I was sleepy, and took an early Monday morning bus. I boarded the Megabus, plugged my laptop into the outlet in front of me, and dozed off before the Dallas skyline and iconic geodesic domed Reunion Tower were far behind me. I didn’t awake until I was in Austin and able to see the Capitol building and familiar Austin sky-scape.
By then, I was a few minutes away from the Dobie Mall drop-off. When I got off with my luggage and fully charged laptop, I was in familiar surroundings.
No one was waiting for me, so I walked across the street and caught the city bus home. I was not the only one who used this method to make it to the final leg of my journey.
Convenience, a smooth ride in a cushy bus at an affordable rate – I was sold on Megabus. I see some long-term possibilities here.