Megabus : How to travel on a budget in America

If you follow Last Kodiak, you know I am a fan of Amtrak. However, sometimes I have no choice but take a bus. As a result of this, I have tried using MegaBus. It is a double decker bus that goes from city to city.

My experience with MegaBus is going from Dallas to Atlanta and back twice. I have also used it from Atlanta to Chattanooga. I understand they are much more popular on the west coast but I don’t have the personal experience for that.

Since 2006, they have been serving major cities with hubs in Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, and Los Angeles. From there, they go all over to most major cities. It seems that they are moving away from a hub system and just traveling from city to city in the last few years though.

All the buses I have been on had electricity at very seat and some of the buses had wifi. (It was very slow!) Many of the buses stop for a meal somewhere as well. That is nice when you have eight or more hours between points.

My experience with MegaBus is they are quite cheap but can be challenging to deal with as there is no real customer service. Any need for help can be very limiting at best.

My encounter with MegaBus

I was in Fort Worth, Texas and I was planning to go to Chattanooga. The flights and even Greyhound was quite pricy. I did not want to pay $250 for a one way ticket (and in advance!) I had heard about MegaBus but knew no one that has tried it. After seeing tickets from Dallas to Chattanooga for $23; I was willing to see how the service was.

The first thing I noticed is they did not have a terminal in Dallas. They actually pick people up at East Transfer Station, a local bus terminal. The guy came and made sure everyone on his list and we go on the bus. It was litterally that quick. The bus left exactly on time with or without everyone on the list.

I had a layover in Memphis where they used the Greyhound station. This was the only “real” bus station I have seen. We stopped in Tupelo where there is a McDonalds and Subway inside of Love’s Truck stop. Besides that, it was non-stop to Atlanta.

The stop in Atlanta is just on the side of the road by a local train station. The only thing there is a sign that says it is the stop for Megabus. We got all the bus and he pulled away. It was interesting to say the least. The other bus I had to get was the next morning. I ended up finding a Denny’s to waste the night.

The next morning, another bus came and picked me up at the sign and we went to Chattanooga. Again, hardly more than a sign was the bus terminal. It was next to a Waffle House and down the street from Krystal.

What about customer service?

Going back to Dallas, I had to use the Greyhound to Altanta because they only come to Chattanooga twice a day. The bus was late from Knoxville and I was going to miss my bus. I called Megabus to rebook. They claim you can rebook on the next bus for just $5 if you miss it. Well, there is not really true. My bus was 11:55pm. They told me the next bus was in a different day.

After calling customer service and dealing with a rude lady (that ultimately hung up on me), I ended up having to get a new ticket at the last minutes for $99.

What I learned was that basically there is no customer service and there is no help desk at terminals because, well, there is no terminals. In fact, I had some challenges even finding a number to call. It is basically an Andriod app and they hope to never speak to people from what I can gather.

If there is need to contact them, the number is 1 (877) 462-6342. The best advice I can give you is good luck. I really hope you got someone better than I did.

How to get a $1 fare on Megabus

If you can imagine, they are hard to come by. You have to book weeks or months in advance. Right now, there is a $1 ticket from Atlanta to Memphis that is 73 days from now. The cheapest I could find from Atlanta to Dallas was $15. That is still quite cheap.

No matter what ticket you get there is a $2.50 booking fee as well. Even that $1 ticket would be $3.50 (which is still really cheap!) They also make their money by upselling premium seating. I normally buy a seat with a table on it. This is handy for work on my laptop and gives me more room. It is worth the extra $2.

They also have a pretty strict baggage rule. Anything more than one checked luggage will cost you $15 per bag. I have never had more than my backpack so I never had to worry about this. However, it is something to be aware of.

Is MegaBus for you?

If you just need a cheap way to get from one city to another, it does work. I might use them again, despite my bad experience with customer service. The bigger challenge that I see how the big gaps on the map for cities serviced. For example, Kansas City has no service by Megabus at all. There is also no service west of Dallas until you get to Las Vegas. If you are going to Vegas, check out some things to do here.


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