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Taking Megabus from Manhattan to Baltimore
Most people agree that air travel just isn't as fun as it used to be. The space you get on a plane seems to be getting smaller and smaller. Airlines used to make you feel special in the air by providing complimentary drinks, snack, pillow and blanket. Now you just hope your flight is on time and you get to your destination safely. Comfort is something you wait until you get off that plane.
During my recent trip to the East Coast, I needed to go to both New York City and Baltimore. Initially I reserved 3 flights, SFO -> NYC -> BWI -> SFO. The fare was a little over $300, similar to a simple round trip. I didn't pay for the flights immediately. Two days later, the same flights became over $500. I started looking into alternative modes of transportation between NYC to Baltimore or vise versa. My family in NYC mentioned seeing Megabus fliers advertising $1 fares, so I started doing some online research on it.
The bus runs between NY to Baltimore several times a day, and the
prices varies depending on time of the day and day of the week. The only
$1 trip I found was for the 1 AM departure from Baltimore to NY. It might be
ideal for some people but wasn't my preference. The ideal time for me
was mid-morning departures, and they are about $12 each way on week
days. On weekends, the fares are more than $20 each way. The website
indicates that you must reserve your tickets online, which I found
wasn't exactly true. There is a small Megabus ticketing office in New York right across the street from its bus stop at 8th Ave and W. 31st Street, off Penn Station. For people taking the bus from NY, they can purchase their tickets at the office.
For Baltimore destination, the bus stops at White Marsh Park & Ride, which isn't exactly in Downtown Baltimore. If you have nobody to pick you up at White Marsh Park & Ride, you can catch a bus at White Marsh Mall across the street, on the other side of IKEA, which you can see from Megabus bus stop. Bus 35 takes you all the way to Downtown area for $1.60. The bus ride to Downtown may take up to 50 minutes depends on traffic. If you need to get to Baltimore Airport (BWI), you can take the light rail from Downtown area near Pratt St. and Howard St., where the convention center is. The light rail takes you all the way to the airport in about 30 minutes. On my way back from Baltimore to NY, I arrived at White Marsh bus stop more than an hour early. I was able to catch an earlier bus for $5 change fee.
When I mentioned to some of my friends that I took a bus from New York to Baltimore, they imagined a cheap beat up bus for some reason. All the Mega buses I saw are in brand new condition. They are double decker buses in bright colors with comfortable seats. On the first deck, there are a few seats with tables. Wi-Fi was available on both buses I took without extra charge. Power outlets were available next to every seat. The bus is also equipped with small drop down movie screens and headphone jacks on every seat although they did not show movies during my trips. The bus rides were much more comfortable than the flights I took. I rode on the upper deck for both ways, and people were able to get up and move around freely.
The boarding procedure outside of Penn Station seemed to be somewhat confusing and chaotic, and a few people were unhappy about being moved from line to line. It was due to multiple buses picking up passengers to different destinations (Boston and Philadelphia) around the same time. I much prefer a little confusion before getting on the bus over being cramped into a small space for hours. I think overall it was a much better way to travel and much more economical.