My two dollar, thousand mile date night

Due to circumstances, I am living in two different cities these days. My home and heart are in Chicago, but I also have an apartment in Kansas City where I work during the week.

I used to travel quite a bit via Amtrak and Southwest Airlines, but for the past few years, I have used Megabus. These are double-decker luxury buses that only make a few stops on their inter-city trips. On the 550 miles between Kansas City and Chicago, the only stops are a truck stop in Booneville, MO, the college town of Columbia, MO, St. Louis and another truck stop in McLean, IL. Each bus is equipped with outlets at each seat, and free wi-fi.

There are two buses a day from Kansas City to Chicago, one in the morning and one at night. Lately, I’ve taken to catching the over-night bus Friday at 8:45 PM, taking a generic Ambien, and waking up in Chicago at 6:30 AM. I then take the bus back to KC either Sunday night at 11:55 PM, or Monday morning at 6:30 AM.

The buses are easy to recognize. They are big and blue, and painted on the back and two sides is an ad for “Fares as low as $1!”.

This is true. The first three seats on each bus trip are $1. The next few are $5, etc.

I buy my trips very early for every weekend, constantly tracking when the seats go on sale, and when they do, booking a bunch at once.

One time, I bought twenty trips between Kansas City and Chicago for 20. Plus a .50 reservation fee.

That’s 10,000 miles of travel for $20. (plus fifty cents)

So I’m able to come home every weekend for $2.

I was just reading a story in the paper this morning about bus travel, comparing Greyhound and Megabus (both were rated rather highly). Personally, I like driving, but then again I don’t have cause to make a 1000-mile roundtrip on a weekly basis.

I don’t have much else to add to the conversation, except…good find!

Even if I liked driving, it’s hard to do so while sound asleep.

Thank you.

Have you tried leaving your :heart: in San Francisco? :slight_smile:

On first reading, I parsed this to mean: Each bus is equipped with toilets at each seat . . ." :smiley:
That’s a luxury ride indeed!

I always meant to take Megabus somewhere when I lived in Urbana, IL, but the opportunity never arose. The buses weren’t very frequent back then. I see now that they have frequent buses to and from DC. I’ll have to see how it compares to the Amtrak, which I take now and then.

How reliable is the wireless? Amtrak sometimes feels like it has one 3G connection for the entire train.

No Megabuses travel cross-country. So even if I wished to, I couldn’t.

It depends on the location, and to some extent the bus. It’s all cellular, but because they are on a highway all the way, I suspect it’s more reliable than Amtrak. Kansas City to Chicago is I-70 to I-55 to I-80, and the last two are pretty decent.

Nice. A friend had to travel frequently between Indianapolis and Chicago, and he took the Megabus frequently. He was never able to get the $2 fares, but even the more expensive ones are very reasonably priced. It’s a great service.

We have something like this here too. It’s called Red Arrow and runs between Calgary, Edmonton and Fort McMurray. It’s not as luxurious or cheap as yours, but it’s much less then a flight, has comfortable seats and free wifi, and food/drink service. In some cases, it’s probably faster then flying between Calgary and Edmonton once you account for arrive at the airport early, collecting your bags, etc. I’ve never taken it though.

I took the bus from Chicago to St. Louis in the early days of Megabus, and it seemed a toss up whether or not you got on a really nice bus or a craptastic old-school greyhound type. Is that not the case anymore?

Last year I took a greyhound bus for the first time in ages, and was absolutely amazed at how comfortable they had gotten, though I think I paid a little more for it. It was nicer than some airlines. Amtrak seating is a little nicer but it gets expensive and crowded.

As a resident of the greater KC area I thank you for this interesting bit of knowledge.

I might just look into a weekend trip to the Windy City in the spring. I promise not to snag any of your $1 seats.

I’d seen those, and wondered about the dollar fares. I had figured that there was one dinky little route between two tiny towns somewhere in the network that was the cheap one, and everything else was higher-- I didn’t realize they had seats that cheap (even if only a few of them) on all of the routes. The price structure seems inverted, though: Usually, seats on a vehicle are most expensive for the first ones, and get cheaper when you just want to fill up the last few, since running a full vehicle is only slightly more expensive than running one with only one passenger.

Even if you can’t snag a $1 seat, the $15 seats are still a great deal! I’ve taken the one from Cleveland to Chicago. And back. Only problem I had was on one leg of the trip, the toilet got backed up. And one time the driver got back on the highway after a rest stop heading the wrong direction, and we had to turn around. We were running an hour behind schedule and the driver got very angry with people calling Megabus HQ and complaining about him, so he kept making announcements about how if anyone tried to speak to him he’d stop the bus and kick them off. Fun trip! Otherwise, it was just fine.

The last time I took Megabus, my fare was $3 round trip from Chicago to Milwaukee and they played Happy Gilmore on the tv’s for us.

I got a 2 (plus .50 booking fee) round trip to KC from Chicago this year, and then at the last minute my friends I was going to meet there cancelled.

I love Megabus, but I was a bit concerned about a 12 hour trip or whatever it was. I’m like one inch too tall for a Megabus seat to be comfortable for >5 hours.

I’m 6’. I’ve never had any issues with legroom. When I sleep in a seat, I put my coat under my back and my feet under the seat in front of me, with my seat belt belted to keep me from sliding under. On some buses, there is one specific seat that reclines further than the others that I seek out when sleeping.

Thankfully, I have never been subjected to that.

Yeah, there are a few prize assholes among the drivers. I’ve taken to scheduling to avoid them. For the most part, I’ve made friends with the drivers by helping them unload the luggage in Kansas City.

Nope, every route.

You’ll have to be as obsessive as I am. On the other hand, I frequently buy seats I am not going to use to give myself options around the holidays.

Other than one time when the double-decker broke down, it’s always been the nice ones.

My only experience was a little off-putting: waiting for the 11 pm bus back to a Chicago under a Milwaukee freeway overpass—with not even a bench, much less a bathroom or vending machine. It finally arrived at 1:45 am. Of course, for those three anxious hours there was no way to determine what was happening and whether I should give up and go get a hotel room.

Also, it seemed to me that the seats and suspension were much stiffer than on normal highway coaches. Though I had little trouble falling asleep on that particular trip.

Yeah, the fact that they pick up on the street is an issue, especially when it’s raining or snowing. But…$1.

Never noticed that, and I take it twice a week.

LOL - me too!!!

That is quite a deal indeed - I’m impressed.

We’ve taken a similar bus from here (DC metro area) to New York a few times. Not Megabus (though they do operate), but a competitor whose DC-area stop is much closer to where we live in the 'burbs. It’s a really great deal - 30 dollars one way.

I prefer the train of course - more legroom and you can get up and move around more easily - but at triple the price, the bus is a good deal for us. The one longer-term bus ride I’ve taken in recent years was on a charter bus up to Boston - similar distance to your jaunt. I don’t know if I could do that every week, though of course the fact that most of the other occupants on my trip were Girl Scouts may contribute to that opinion.

Is your bus usually full? If not, that’s great - you stand a chance of having 2 seats to yourself (much more comfy). The buses from here to NYC are usually completely sold out.

“I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like Grandpa - not screaming in terror like his passengers”. :).