This post was written by Katie about her four Mega Bus journeys within 8 days.
I took Mega Bus on two sequential June Tuesdays from Austin to Houston to drop off and pick up visa materials at the Chinese Consulate in Houston. I booked my tickets 8 days before my first trip, and 7 days before my second trip. For these Tuesday trips, my round-up ticket (with reserved table seats and booking fee) was $16.50 and $17.50. The entire experience was much better than I expected!
JT dropped me off at the Austin Mega Bus stop on Whitis Avenue between 20th and 21st streets at 8am for my 8:15am bus. No bus was on site at 8am, but there were a few Mega Bus employees, as well as some other travellers. The employees got people to start lining up at 8:05am. I got in the line, and then the bus appeared shortly after. People with reservations boarded first, and then everyone else was loaded in order. We left right at our scheduled 8:15am departure time.
The bus was rather empty, and there was no one else seated at my reserved 4-seat table, so there was plenty of room to spread out. Each seat had an overhead power outlet, light, and air vent. Although there was free wifi, it really was not good for anything except gmail and Facebook. Any google search or attempt to use Google Maps made me lose connectivity for 5-15 minutes.
We arrived at the stop in Katy, TX about 20 minutes early. A few people exited (no one is allowed to board), and then we were on our way. We reached our downtown Houston stop about 15 minutes early.
The downtown Houston stop was in a fenced off area, although the area around the stop seemed safe enough. There are plenty of local bus lines that pick up in the general vicinity, and there are plenty of restaurants, fast-food, and coffee shops nearby.
My other three trips were very similar to my first trip. The bus was more crowded on the evening trips from Houston back to Austin, but still less than half full. I reserved seats on these trips, but the main benefit of reserving seats is boarding first.
- The wifi was consistently bad. Do not expect to get anything done using it.
- Headphones can be nice to tune out annoying/loud passengers.
- Book early to get cheap prices. You can ‘trade-in’ reservations until 6 hours before departure to credit much of the cost of an unwanted reservation towards another reservation.
- Table seats can be awkward, because (1) the table is too small for two people across from each other to both work on laptops and (2) there is not enough leg room for two people to sit across from each other comfortably.
- The upper deck of the bus can be rather warm – I’d recommend the bottom.
- There is no room for carry-on luggage except in your lap or below the seat in front of you (there is no rack overhead). If the bus is crowded, even a small backpack could get rather uncomfortable.
- The bathroom is acceptable, but you might want to have toilet paper just in case.
Overall, I’d consider Mega Bus for future trips if tickets are available at good prices. The experience is certainly okay for the price I paid on these trips.