Megabus is one of many budget bus lines operating along the East Coast and in the Midwest. Starting May 4, Megabus is starting more express daily service with fares as low as $1 between New York, State College, Pennsylvania, and Pittsburgh, and between Chicago, Des Moines and Iowa City. Arthur Frommer sums thing up well:
Although the lure of an intercity bus trip for only $1 is just that — a lure attached to only a very few seats per trip — the prospect of ultra-cheap bus service has apparently attracted enough business to make the budget buslines a permanent fixture on the U.S. travel scene.
While you can’t really expect to get $1 bus tickets, you should be able to find one-way tickets in the $15-$25 range.
About eight years ago, I started riding the Chinatown budget buses between New York and Washington, D.C. I had already taken a few Greyhound trips and didn’t notice much of a difference beyond price and departure times. Greyhound was usually $40 one-way, and the Chinatown buses were closer to $15, maybe even $10. Since they started out as a service for restaurant workers, the Chinatown buses mainly left early in the morning or very late at night. I also remember getting to see Twelve Monkeys with Chinese subtitles several times.
After a few years though, the budget bus competition caused Greyhound to offer similar low fares online and I would always take Greyhound from New York to D.C. and from New York to Boston. For about $20 each way, Greyhound has several advantages over the budget buses. You get to wait inside of a bus terminal — sometimes with the bargain buses, you have to stand outside on a street corner and deal with the elements. Greyhound also allows you the freedom to change your itinerary — just buy a ticket and you can get on another bus later in the day or later in the week, and buses usually leave every hour or so.
The bargain buses do have some advantages though. A friend of mine in Brooklyn loves one bargain bus that’s run by Hassidic Jews because it drops her off at a Metro station in the Virginia suburbs. Megabus also says all its buses have free wifi.
If you can stand spending four hours or so sitting on a bus, you probably can’t find a cheaper way to travel in the U.S.
[Image: Disorder Magazine]