This past weekend I had the opportunity to take a MegaBus from New York City to Hartford. The one way trip cost $21 and took just under three hours, which isn’t bad at all. As many of you know, I’m a big fan of Amtrak, but some comments had led me to reconsider the buss option for northeast travel.
My bus left New York at 7:50 on Friday evening and was scheduled to get into Hartford at 10:30. It left from 34th Street and 11th Avenue, which isn’t the most convenient location in New York, but is relatively close to Penn Station. I arrived at the bus stop at just after 7:30 in order to get a good spot in line, but it turned out I was one of the last ones to arrive so I was near the end of the line. The bus started loading right around 7:50 and we didn’t leave until about 8:00 – 10 minutes later than scheduled. Despite my being at the end of the line, I was lucky enough to secure a seat with no one next to me, which was very fortunate given the tight seats. The bus had video screens that looked like they would show a movie, but nothing was ever shown even though the screens were on.
The ride quality was very jerky, which made it hard to read for the entire time. I tried reading for about an hour, but had to put my book down in the end as I began to get “car sick.” Despite leaving ten minutes late, the bus driver stopped by the side of the highway to make a personal phone call. While I appreciated the fact that he didn’t talk while driving, I was a little confused as to why he felt the need to talk at all. There was also no announcement made to explain the stop, which lasted about 8-10 minutes, so most of us were just left looking around trying to figure out what was going on.
Luckily we didn’t have any traffic whatsoever so we arrived in Hartford right on time – 10:30 on the dot. That’s despite the fact that we had roughly 20 minutes of delays. At the end of the day, I’d still much rather take Amtrak than a bus. MegaBus advertises free WiFi, but there wasn’t any WiFi at all, whereas Amtrak offers free WiFi on all of its Northeast Regional and Acela trains. The comfort level with Amtrak is far superior to MegaBus as the seats are much larger and there’s a dining car where you can get a cup of coffee or snack. Amtrak may be more expensive, but in my opinion it’s well worth it.