If there’s one thing I hate, it’s the hassle of dealing with airlines and airport security; if there’s another, it’s the rage-inducing mishaps that occur when you ride on Amtrak. And although I’ve never ridden a Greyhound bus before, I’m pretty sure I’d hate that too. Consequently, I was genuinely interested — albeit skeptical — when my wife proposed an altogether different means of transportation for our trip to Chicago last weekend: The Megabus.
The Megabus is a double-decker bus service that shuttles people to and from various cities throughout the United States, Canada and Britain. It’s incredibly cheap: round-trip tickets for two adult passengers from Minneapolis to Chicago cost us a paltry $65.50. That’s even less than we would have spent on gas money if we had driven the same route in my 40 mpg Toyota Echo. And since driving in Chicago is a nightmare and parking there is financially ruinous, it wasn’t much of a choice.
Still, I had doubts. The thrifty price tag raised a red flag with me; why were tickets for this thing so cheap? Is their clientele so unsavory that they have to offer discounted tickets? I wondered. The image of my fair wife and I being accosted by lonely, desperate and/or unwashed lunatics for eight hours flashed grimly in my mind. On second thought, however, this potentiality seemed pretty manageable when taken in the context of my prior experiences with Amtrak in particular. I decided to chance it.
As it turns out, the Megabus is pretty awesome. The seats were more comfortable than your average 767, and there were no metal detectors or TSA employees to make me throw away my shaving cream and shampoo bottle. There were no lonely weirdos or gibbering sociopaths — or, if there were, they managed to stay quiet for the entire trip. I sat back and listened to an audiobook on my iPod for almost the entire ride, taking naps whenever I got bored. Patty did pretty much the same. There’s a small-but-functional bathroom on board the bus, and we had a half-hour lunch break at a truck stop just outside Madison. If I have a complaint, it’s that we arrived at Union Station more than an hour late; however, this appeared to have more to do with Chicago’s horrific construction-related traffic congestion than anything else. Also, getting our luggage on and off the bus took a long time because the driver, a friendly and competent guy, had to handle all of it by himself.
I’m trying hard to think of something I didn’t like about the Megabus, and I’m failing to come up with anything significant. Of course, it might be that after several years’ worth of miserable and harrowing travel experiences, nothing short of being knifed by a disgruntled passenger would faze me at this point. Regardless, I have only good things to say about the Megabus, and I would definitely ride it again.
Oh, and by the way, Chicago rules.