On Saturday, September 15, I hopped on board a Megabus to Dallas for a 3 day trip to be with friends and family.
As a rule, I generally fly on Southwest Airlines or drive my car, but with the arrival of the new Megabus service, I wanted to try something new.
Doing the Math:
Given the three options available, I wanted to see what the price difference would be.
Driving 600 miles round trip, and getting about 25 miles to the gallon, and given that gas was about $3.60 per gallon, I would have spent $86.40, not including the wear and tear on my car, and having to spend 5 hours each way staying focused on the task at hand: driving..
Given that I had made the decision to go to Dallas without buying an advance far ticket, a full fare would have run $300 , plus $100 for the rental car for use in Dallas, making it a total of $400.
I am not sure how they do it, but Megabus’s fares are very low. My ticket was $24 (not a misprint) roundtrip, plus the cost of the car rental of $100, for a total of $124.
I rented my car from Enterprise, which happens to have an office 2 miles from where Megabus drops you off in Grand Prairie. The only thing is being that I their office closes on Saturday at noon, I was not sure I was going to make it in time, so I had to rent the car at Enterprise at DFW Airport. A taxi back and forth ran $30 each way – more than the roundtrip fare from San Antonio to Dallas and back, making it a total of $200. Had my trip not been on Saturday, the trip would have been $124.
Practically speaking, if I was going on business and only going for the day, driving or taking Megabus is not practical, given that it takes 5 hours each way for a total of 10 hours as opposed to the time your spend at the airport, clearing security, flying, landing and getting off the plane which takes about 2.5 hours – practical enough to fly in and out for the day.
The Megabus Experience
Money and time aside, I prefer Megabus over driving and flying.
The bus is very nice, very comfortable and very clean. If you are at the front of the line to check in, you can get your choice of where to sit. In my case, I sat on the second level and right up front – with a great view.
Having driven up and down I-35 for as long as I can remember – some 40 + years, I actually enjoyed the experience of being on a bus. It felt more like a train and would love to see high speed rail take hold from San Antonio to Austin to Dallas / Ft. Worth.
Plugged In. Sort Of.
Each seat on Megabus has electrical outlets so you can plug in your music device, personal computer, or tablet., so you always have electricity.
While the bus offers free WiFi, I found the service to be very slow, and often blocked sites that had nothing to do with porn, downloading illegal music or anything to do that might have been associated with doing bad things in general.
I’ve taken buses in Israel that have WiFi and traveling between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, it worked like a charm and was a wonderful service offering.
The poor and slow WiFi aside, if I had one verb to describe my Megabus experience, I would call it “relaxing.” I read, wrote, listened to music, looked at the window from a different angle way up high and slept.
Unlike in New York, Boston or Washington, DC where Megabus offers a great service, each end has great public transportation. Not so the case in San Antonio, Austin or San Antonio. I am not saying it’s a bad thing. It’s just the way it is and you should take that into account as you are making your travel plans going in either direction.
Yes. I Would Do This Again
With the exception of doing a day trip, and now knowing that it’s best to travel during the week (or on a Friday to get the rental car in Grand Prarie,) I will definitely be back on Megabus again.
Suggestions to Megabus Management:
1. When a customer buys a ticket, email back the Twitter and Facebook links.
2. Fix the WiFi (please) – or don’t promote it.
3. Align with rental car agencies and offer cross promotions – in this case, team up with Enterprise in Grand Prairie and offer the ability to make a reservation from your site. (Hint: you could even make money doing this:) )
4. Encourage your passengers a way to promote their trip en route – can’t do this on an airplane and hard to do (and not safe) when you are traveling – and have a chance to win something – like a future free trip.
5. Align with Redbox and rent DVDs at both ends. (Hint: moneymaker again)
See you on-board!