Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Megabus vs. Amtrak

From the title of this post, you'd think that I was pitching a new sci-fi movie about a really big bus getting in a fight with....I don't know...a train.

And that's pretty much what this is. But it's not science fiction - it's HORROR.

Let's say you need to travel and you don't want to drive. What are you going to do?

A) Take the Amtrak
B) Take the Megabus
C) Not travel

I'm here to help you out with that decision! Sort of! I'm basically just here to tell you that I've traveled A LOT since living in Chicago. And I've learned that I don't love driving for 5 hours in my poopy little car alone. So I end up weighing the pros and cons of every possible option. And then, I do all of them in one trip.

Last weekend, I went to Michigan on a whim and I debated not going but that seemed stupid. So, I took the Amtrak to Ann Arbor and then the Megabus from Ann Arbor back to the city. Let's compare the two!


  • Space - When I've taken the Amtrak to Michigan in the past, I have almost always had 2 seats to myself. This means I can sprawl out like a homeless person and take up as much room as possible. Even when you don't have 2 seats to yourself, you have plenty of legroom and can fall asleep.
  • Outlets - On Amtrak, you get to have power outlets to charge your shit!
  • Snack Car - There is a food car on the train, which means you can get up and wander about all you want!
  • No Wi-fi - Yes, you have the power needed to charge your shit, but you still can't stream Netflix or browse the web (that's a thing still, right?)
  • DELAYS - You will NOT arrive at your scheduled time. You WILL feel bad if someone is picking you up and your arrival keeps getting pushed back til 1am. And while you're delayed, you won't see views of mountains. You will see views of murderous rage.
  • Cost - Amtrak is more expensive than Megabus. Because it's a train, you dummie.
You are a billboard

  • Cost - The Megabus is cheap, cheap, cheap! You can ride for like $9 if you're willing to travel in the middle of the night. But even during the day, my ticket was half the price of Amtrak.
  • Wi-Fi - There is free wi-fi on this behemoth. Which means you can freely tweet about how terrible your neighbor's dandruff problem is
  • On-time!!! - You're riding on a bus, in traffic, which means you have to account for traffic delays but you would have those if you drove yourself too. But the bus won't be delayed due to cracked tracks or anything, so you'll most likely arrive on time!
  • Space - These seats are small. You will not have legroom, and the bitch in front of you will most likely lean her seat back into your space. You have the option of sitting at a teeny tiny table but it's not any better to have to stare at a stranger while you awkwardly kick their feet for 5 hours.
  • Outlets - A power outlet is a "pro" you say? Not when none of the power outlets on the entire bus work! Then they're just taunting you! So, yes, you can stream netflix on your laptop, but you cannot charge said laptop. So, deal with it!
  • Smell - I'm not sure if I'm crazy, but this bus SMELLED. We stopped for a rest and half the riders got fast food which just sat on the bus smelling the place up. I think it was because we were all crammed in there like sardines, so the smell just consumed me.
  • Temperature - Okay, I was FREEZING on the bus. Like, my feet were just about numb. And I had a blanket on. 
So, overall, both options are FINE. There's not going to be a perfect option that makes you 100% happy. But, if you ask me, I'd prefer the Amtrak (albeit slightly). It all comes down to space, I'm willing to be late if it means I can lay down in my seat and read 2 books (you can read 2 books because you're late, duh). Now, if this travel is happening over a holiday, you may not get 2 seats to yourself. Which would mean you should take the bus.

But really, it also comes down to availability. You may find that a combination of the 2 options allows you to travel in the timeframe you're looking for, so BE FLEXIBLE.

Do you have a story to tell about Amtrak vs. megabus? Share in the comments! You might just save a fellow traveler some trouble.



  1. I am a big Amtrak fan, but your negatives are real issues in the Chicago - Detroit corridor. At least half the time we have gotten a major delay, and many times it has been greater than 2 hours, which is pretty bad for a 4 hour trip. Still, I love the space, the relative quiet, and I usually choose Amtrak at times when delays don't bother me.

    In contrast, most of my bus trips have been noisy, cramped, smelly, and uncomfortable. Sometimes you get what you pay for.

    1. Absolutely! If you think about amtrak as a vacation from the real world before your vacation, it makes the delays easier to bear. So long as you ensure your movies are the right file type for your computer. :(


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