Battle of the buses
Megabus takes on Greyhound
Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 23:10
Road trips are a part of college. Whether you’re visiting a friend at his/her school across the state, seeing a show in another city or just trying to run away from your problems, traveling is always a blast.
But how do you get there? Flights can be hundreds of dollars and you may not want to drive there due to a lack of car or a lack of gas money. If you’d like to avoid hitchhiking, taking the bus could be your ticket. The choice is either Megabus or Greyhound.
Combatants, enter the ring!
According to an article on nooga.com, since 2006, Greyhound transports more than 18 million passengers every year to 3,800 destinations in 48 states and nine Canadian provinces. Megabus, in operation since 2006, has served more than 20 million passengers, including nearly 410,000 during the holiday season, according to nooga.com, and serves 80 major cities across North America, according to Megabus’ website.
Okay, statistics are statistics. I know that those aren’t exactly the numbers you want. For criteria, let’s use price (we’re all poor, I know) and time (because who has that?) for a one-way ticket to the destination of your choice.
Let’s say you want to escape the Pittsburgh area before you go home for Thanksgiving break. Put in a departure for Saturday, Nov. 17. For those who would want to spend some time with Obama (barring that D.C. is still in one piece after post-tropical cyclone Sandy is finished with her rage), Greyhound prices are around $22 for a six-and-a-half-hour bus ride, while the Megabus is around $29 for a six-hour bus ride.
Further examination is required. Suppose you want a bus to the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia. For Greyhound, a ticket would cost $37 and the ride would range from five hours and 45 minutes to nine hours and five minutes. On the Megabus, you can make it to Philly in six hours and 35 minutes for $29, unless you take the 11:05 a.m. which will run you $39.
But to be fair, we should look at ticket prices a little further down the line to see who can give you more bang for your bus. Holiday travel is always a possibility. Who wouldn’t be up for a trip to New York to peek into Macy’s window display this year?
Let’s book the day after finals are over, Dec. 19. Greyhound will cost $39 and ranges from seven hours and 20 minutes to 13 hours. Megabus will cost $49 to $59, but will only take eight hours.
The Motor City could be fun, too. Trips to Detroit through Greyhound will cost $32 and range from six hours and 35 minutes to eight hours and 50 minutes, while Megabus will cost you only $21 and take seven hours and 25 minutes.
Just to make one final comparison, let’s pick a weekday in January and look up trips to Cleveland.
Jan. 8 sounds good. Greyhound ranges from two hours and 25 minutes to five hours and 20 minutes for trip time and costs $11. Megabus will take two and a half hours and cost only $1.
What happened to the competition, here?
Overall, it looks to be Megabus with the overarching advantage for both time and, most often, price. With the Megabus you have stability; you know how long your bus will take because you are given a fairly uniform trip time. But with Greyhound, you have a range of times for your trip but you have more trips per day available. Also, Greyhound has a much wider destination area for trips from Pittsburgh, while Megabus has a limit of 11 places, including those used in the faux trips above.
As for amenities, Megabus has free-Wi-Fi, bathrooms on bus, power-outlets and ample legroom. Greyhound has revamped their buses and offer pretty similar extras, as well.
If you’re getting the sense that I am somewhat biased, this probably has some truth. I have ridden the Megabus at least three times in the past year or so and have never experienced a Greyhound bus.
My reason for bias is most likely price, but also loyalty to the customer. On my latest trip on the Megabus, I was waiting to come home to the Steel City from State College. I angrily tweeted that the bus was late including “Megabus” it one of my many hash tags. It was raining and I was not in the mood. A few minutes later, @MegabusHelp tweeted me asking for my reservation details to look into the situation. By that time, my bus has arrived and I had relayed the message. They thanked me for choosing Megabus and said they appreciated my business.
When things like this happen, you can’t help but to take note. I am sure experiences vary between customers, with some having sob-story experiences with either service. But I have had no issues with Megabus. For me, the battle of the buses has been decided. Megabus wins my ticket.
Zach Brendza is a junior print journalism major and can be reached at email@example.com.