Monday, December 17, 2012

Will Megabus Send Greyhound To The Pound?

Too good to be true? Not if you know how to order tickets, and when.

For a long time, Greyhound was the only way to go to San Francisco directly if your car is in the shop. Direct train service isn't possible, which is why Amtrak offers a bus shuttle from Emeryville.

Now a new company called Megabus is offering a cheaper alternative, with service from Old Town Sacramento to the CalTrain station a block away from AT&T Park. That means it will get a lot of use next spring.

For the heck of it, I decided to give it a try yesterday. For just two dollars, I can enjoy a day-long walk all around town to see some Christmas sights you can't find in Sacramento. My Flickr section has some nice outdoor trees, a foggy Golden Gate Bridge, and a bunch of Santas gathering to fight HIV. They were offering one dollar tickets for its first week in service. The price will go up, but not too much compared to Greyhound.

While Greyhound has many more buses for its service to San Francisco, plus its own bus station, Megabus does its service online with no need for ticket takers. It's just like waiting for a regular bus.If you don't mind a few things, it's worth the ride.

The inside is pretty impressive, too:

It's a modern double-decker bus, which means more passengers per trip. The seats recline and have seat belts. That should make more people feel safe.
The lower section has two tables to accommodate four people. That's ideal for families. It also had electrical plugs on the top, which means you can keep your phone, computer or iPod juiced while surfing the net or calling someone. I preferred using the upper deck seats  because it was easier to use the plugs. The wi-fi is free, and it works for web surfing. It doesn't work for YouTube, but that was also the case when I used wi-fi on the Capitol Corridor

You also notice there's a TV screen. That's mainly used for the pre-ride instructions, but I wish it could be used for DVD movies for those longer trips. I remember using a private bus service who included a movie in the trip...and this was way back in the VHS days. Maybe in the future, they could throw in DirecTV.

The ride itself was very smooth, and more efficient than Greyhound. That's because it's a direct route, and the buses are just better.

Megabus was in California a few years ago, but it didn't work out. Once it did catch on in several parts of the nation, they gave the Golden State another chance. There's direct service from San Francisco to Los Angeles, SF to Sacramento, and San Jose to Los Angeles. There's also service between Riverside and Las Vegas. As I said, I may use the San Francisco service a lot more often than I would with Greyhound. It just depends on when I'll need it, and if I can use it. Maybe it will get Greyhound to improve its bus fleet, and maybe offer a discount or two. We'll see.

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