WHY I WILL NEVER TRAVEL ON MEGABUS AGAIN and you should think twice about it.
The first time I heard of Megabus, a bus en route from Chicago had crashed into a concrete pillar of an overpass, killing a graduate student. I shook my head at the time and took the Amtrak to Chicago instead. But recently, I had to travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco roundtrip, and Megabus was offering what sounded like a great deal at $40 on Booking.com. I bought it and was sucked into a maelstrom of disappointments and actual physical dangers.
The place we were waiting was unsheltered in the blazing heat at noon. The bus was due to arrive soon, and a number of people were gathered, sitting on the available benches, and standing nearby. As the minutes, and then hours dragged on, different people went up and asked the young man standing at the tiny kiosk when the bus would arrive. His answer was always the same: “I don’t know, there’s been a delay, but don’t leave because it could get here any minute, and it will leave right away.” Several of the older people began to look uncomfortable in the heat and many people got thirsty. The risk of dehydration, heat exhaustion, and even heat stroke increased dramatically as the hours passed. I finally risked missing the bus to dash into the Union station nearby and buy some cold drinks for myself and another older passenger I had met while we were waiting. Megabus provided no drinks and no information.
As we approached five o’clock, finally another, older man took over at the kiosk, and assured us that a bus would be coming, not the original one, which had been cancelled, a fact that had not been communicated to us until then, but another, and it would be there “before dinner time.” We felt released from purgatory, briefly, and some ventured into the station to buy food and return. At six o’clock, when the same Megabus employee said now it would be seven o’clock, “or maybe eight o’clock” before the bus arrived, I left. I had to be in San Francisco early the next morning and couldn’t afford to lose my hotel reservation there. I took the shuttle back to the airport, found a flight for $175, and flew to San Francisco, then took a shuttle to the hotel that I had originally picked because it was walking distance from the Megabus stop. All told, I wasted about 8 hours (a full workday) and $200, not counting the Megabus ticket.
But that isn’t the worst part of the story. Since I had lost so much money, on my return from San Francisco I decided to go ahead and risk taking the bus back. I had already paid the return half of the ticket, and the operator assured me the bus was running on schedule. I went to the appointed pickup spot early, just a signpost next to a construction site with a chain-link fence this time. It was so bizarre-looking that all the subsequent passengers arriving asked me if this could possibly be the right spot, and I told them that the taxi-driver who had brought me had assured me that it was. The bus did arrive on time, and we all boarded the bus, which was nearly full. Unfortunately, the bathroom on the bus was more than full of human waste, sloshing back and forth, emitting a terrible stench, and slopping out when people tried to use the toilet. I felt sorry for the passengers sitting closest to it. When we stopped for gas and the driver disappeared for a prolonged period, with no explanation to us, the bus heated up more and more, increasing the smell, and the large number of flies which flew into the bus each time someone opened the doors, and landed on the passengers. One passenger became an instant hero because he was handy with a rolled-up magazine as fly-swatter. When the driver did finally reappear, the passengers grumbled about the conditions, but subsided eventually, exhausted by the heat. Most passengers refused to use the toilet during the long trip, and several people warned those who attempted to about the risk of disease from using it, handing out wipes and hand sanitizer. When we finally arrived, I think a number of us felt we really were at risk of getting sick, either from direct contact with the contaminated toilet facilities, or from the flies landing on everyone.
Megabus offered no apologies either for the late bus the first half of the trip or the disgusting and unsafe bus on the return half of the trip. Today’s news of another accident is no accident as far as I’m concerned. Seniors often look for low-cost alternatives for travel, and buses are an option, especially when retirement allows more flexibility with time. That makes it all the more important for us to do our research and figure out which are the safe options. Check out the links below before making a reservation on any Megabus. My own choice? Strike Megabus off the list of potential rides for me!
Product or Service Mentioned: Megabus Bus Service.
Reason of review: Bad quality.
Monetary Loss: $550.
Preferred solution: Full refund.