Thursday, March 08, 2007

megabus to chicago

Ypsidixit got the scoop on the Megabus expansion to Ann Arbor. Megabus has been serving Detroit for a while now, and it has been a mystery to us how they could drive right past a town full of cheap-skate college students without picking up a few fares. They seem to have gotten wise to the potential jackpot and have added Ann Arbor to the 14 cities in their greater midwest service region.

But don't start packing your bags for Pittsburgh just yet. From our initial research, the Ann Arbor bus only goes to Chicago. Sure you can ride to Chicago and transfer from there (with potentially long lay-over), but there is no direct service from Ann Arbor to Toledo, Cleveland, or Columbus. In fact, even though the route map shows Ann Arbor as a stop on the way to Detroit, you can't book a seat from A2 to Detroit on the website!

Starting April 2, Megabus offers morning and afternoon service in both directions. The Ann Arbor stop is at the UofM Park and Ride lot on South State, so you can take a UofM commuter bus or AATA bus to the rendez-vous. The trips takes 4 hours and 40 minutes, and costs $15 O/W based on our queries, though the website says fares as low as $1 are possible for early bookings of low-demand seats.

Compared to Amtrak service, the Megabus fare is about $5 lower than even the weekly specials on the train, and the ride time is similar. But Megabus limits passengers to one bag and doesn't have power outlets seats. Compared to Greyhound service, the fare is about half and the trip takes two hours less on Megabus. Despite its unfortunate name, Megabus could offer carfree Ann Arborites a good Chicago-bound alternative to Amtrak, especially if you want to leave town in the morning.


Lee said...

This is a great tip. I've taken Megabus from Chicago to Milwaukee before for $1 and thought it was a great alternative to Amtrak. I've taken Amtrak from Chicago to Ann Arbor several times, and it very often runs late -- once the trip ran more like 8.5 hours instead of 5. Freight rail traffic often holds Amtrak up. The snack car with tables for playing cards is a nice perk on Amtrak, but I've also been on trains where the snack car was closed for various reasons (water leak, broken cash register, etc.) I'm going to have to test out Megabus next time. If it's consistently on time, it may be worth switching.

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