Image credit: Megabus
Josh has posted on how to make a cross-country bus trip more comfortable, and Jennifer reported before that Megabus was seeking to reinvent the long-distance bus riding experience in the US. Yet it's a fair bet that many people are still avoiding long distance bus travel for fear of inconvenience, discomfort or (usually exaggerated) horror stories about personal safety. But in these budget conscious times, maybe this will persuade you—a multi-city round trip from Philly to NYC to DC can set you back as little as $3.50.
And guess how much they'll charge you for wi-fi...Insanely Cheap Inter-City Travel
Donna Freedman reports over at the ever-fabulous, ever-frugal GetRichSlowly.com about why she loves the Megabus. On a recent month-long trip around the East Coast she flew into Philly, and then proceeded to travel from city-to-city using this newcomer to long distance bus travel. The total cost of traveling from Philly to NYC to DC and then back up to Philly came out at an astounding $3.50.
Budget Airlines Provide Model for Cheap, Low-Carbon Transport
Much like the budget airlines it was modeled on, Megabus keeps overheads insanely low, and varies ticket prices based on when you purchase and how much demand there is. While few folks will save quite as much as Freedman, the economics of it all still look pretty amazing:
Megabus has no bus terminals to maintain, insure and staff. Instead, it picks up and drops off on city streets or at existing facilities such as 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. You buy your ticket online and present a reservation number to the driver.
Ticket prices vary based on when you buy and how many seats have already been sold. As the vehicle fills and/or the departure date approaches, fares gradually go up. The average ticket price is $20 -- but again, you could pay a lot less, especially on short trips.
Sure, folks who value speed over money will still be wary, but with each leg of her journey taking at most an hour or two longer than the train, and with the avoidance of airports and security and such, this starts to look like a pretty good deal.
Free Wi-Fi is Icing on the Cake
Add to that the fact that wi-fi was provided free of charge (hear that, airlines!?), and Megabus starts looking pretty darned attractive, if you live somewhere that it serves. (Freedman tells us that Megabus currently operates as far west as Missouri, as far north as Boston and as far south as North Carolina, and also serves Ontario and Quebec.)