After 40 years, I rode the bus again in the United States; From Columbus, Ohio via Indianapolis to Chicago and a week later back to Columbus again. As we all know the bus system in the U.S. is underdeveloped to say the least. Especially my friends who are spoiled with the first class bus service and caoches in Turkey you may be a little disappointed. No coffee, tea and snack service, no individual screens, magazines, newspapers and bus terminals looking like airports here. Then again you get what you pay for.
Megabus makes its money because they don’t have offices, bus terminalsand baggage handlers. Everything is on the Internet: megabus.com. Since everything is on Internet, most of it’s customers are people who are computer literate, hence lot of young people and students.
Here are few of the pluses and minuses from my trip.
Overall I am happy, I’ll give a 6.5 grade to the whole experience. Price is cheap $ 49.00 one way, compared to $ 179.00 on the plane and about $ 60-70 if you drive your own car .
It goes right to the Union Station in Chicago where you can take the METRA train to the suburbs. I took the train to Aurora , an additional hour to my final destination, add $ 6.75.
The reclining seats are as comfortable as that of an an airplane in economy class, but don't even have a cup holder,but have wi-fi and also 110 v. outlets. Yeah, everybody was on either laptops or cell phones. Time passed fast, I was on my I- pad and Android the whole journey, following a Besiktas soccer game. The bathroom was very clean and hygenic and the seat was better than compared to an an airplane's tiny seat.
Bus stops are a different story. In Columbus there is a little sign at the corner of Nationwide Boulevard where the area is blocked off due to construction. It was raining when my wife dropped me off and had to find a Starbucks not for the coffee but to get a shelter. On our way back the driver entered the street from the wrong direction and asked if anybody knew where the bus stop was. I volunteered and guided the bus through the confusing streets of Ohio State University for a u turn and come back to the other side of the street.
In Chicago and in Columbus departures there was a second driver or luggage person helping customers with their luggage, on our arrival a young girl who was a passenger helped the bus driver to get the luggage out of the luggage compartment while most young men were busy on their cell phones.
The departures are perfectly on time, so don’t be late!. Our trip to Chicago was on time : 6.5 hours with a twenty minute lunch break at KFC/Taco Bell and a ten minute pit break. On the way back we arrived 20 minutes early to our Indianapolis stop and the driver gave a twenty minute “cigarette break”but nobody smoked. She exited at the wrong exit for the lunch break, had to make a u turn and go back to the high way again. We took a full 30 minute lunch but arrived forty minutes late in Columbus at our final destination.
Overall it seemed to me that the standards were not set high or not set at all. For example on the first bus, the driver did not even make a good morning announcement and asked the passengers to make sure everybody next to them came back from the restaurant. On the second bus the driver with all that getting lost and everything, made a cheerful “good morning everybody” call, and counted the number of the people going through the isles before each departure.
In summary; I was happy. Did not have to drive by myself for 6.5 hours or did not have to deal with an Airport jam. I kept busy, time passed fast and also had some excitement. I will recommend it for lone travellers.
THE DECK OF THE DOUBLE DECKER
A DEPARTURE FROM CHICAGO
Three weeks after my first trip I took the Megabus from Chicago to Columbus again. It was Easter Sunday and Megabus put an additional bus to compensate for the demand. I was on the second bus and enjoyed the comfortable ride. My only criticism is that the drivers uniforms make them difficult to distinguish from an baggage handler, they don't look professional. As I mentioned earlier there was no baggage handler at our destination. The driver suggested to me to help to carry down passengers luggage from the bus to speed up things. When I hesitated he made a comment like: “ Thanks for helping Buddy ! “ I told him that on my right arm I had bursitis and rotator cuff tendinitis problem. He was a heavy smoker, who smoked at least three cigarettes at every stop. The cigarette never left his lips as he was working with the luggage or when he was checking people to the bus. He reminded me o f the famous Belgian comic character Lucky Luke.
PICS FROM ONE OF THE MAIN BUS COMPANIES IN TURKEY: KAMİL KOÇ