What Was I Thinking?!? Megabus to Washington, D.C. Tonight…

ell, I am preparing to take another trip in a few hours; and it is starting off with a trip on Megabus to Washington, D.C., where I will stay for the weekend with a member of my family before departing for Nairobi and then Muscat.

As we were talking on the telephone to arrange for my meeting him when I arrive tomorrow morning at Union Station, it was nice to know that he will not be far from there — but the conversation eventually changed to the following:

“Have you ever taken Megabus before?”

“Yes, I had.”

“Where did you go?”

I rode on Megabus to Orlando. That was my first time.”

“…and you said that the trip cost you five dollars each way?”

“No. The trip cost me five dollars total round-trip.”

That is correct. I was able to book a fare of one dollar each way. The booking fee and the facilities fee each cost $1.50; so at three dollars, the fees cost more than the entire trip. I happened to be fortunate to book just when the new schedule was released, which the last time that happened was back in mid-November. That schedule is still the current schedule, which is available until the end of March; so a new schedule is due to be released soon.

I originally booked the trip on Megabus as a backup plan in case I was unable to find a low airfare; but as I originally wrote here:

“You would consider taking Megabus again in the future?”, you might be asking me. Let me put it this way: it is not my preferred mode of travel — but the cost is low. It would not be worth it to me if the bus was at full capacity with passengers or if the equipment did not work. I would recommend Megabus for shorter trips where you would arrive at your destination no faster by airplane; or on overnight trips if you are able to sleep aboard a bus. The seats were all right — they are not as wide or as “comfortable” as those found in the economy class cabin aboard a typical airplane operated by a commercial airline. Certain seats — usually reserved on routes which offer reservations when booking your trip — do offer more leg room, a table or better views to help pass the time…

…so while I would not exactly say to myself “Wow! I cannot wait to travel on Megabus again!!!”, I can say that when conditions are right, I will consider being a passenger on Megabus again. It was nice not to have to worry about driving or going through an airport security checkpoint to be screened; and — as I said — the price was right.

That first experience was not a bad one at all. I just hope the experience on which I am about to embark in a few hours is at least as good. One never knows until it starts — but I suppose the same can be said for other modes of transportation as well.

However, this is one of those times where it seems that what I did “looked better on paper” at the time I booked the trip than it does now: in a few hours, I will be on a bus for almost 13 hours, riding overnight — including two stops — and I am not thrilled about that, to say the least.

There was no offer to reserve a seat for a nominal fee on this bus; so I hope I get a decent seat next to a window so that I may attempt to sleep.

Anyway, I am not sure that his schedule will allow him to take me to Washington Dulles International Airport after the weekend is over; so he recommended that I take the Silver Line, which “might cost five dollars each way.”

“Hey! That will cost me twice as much as my entire Megabus trip!” I jokingly protested…

    1. I did know that, pavel; but I was under the impression that there was some type of bus service or something from that station to the airport, as I was told that it was “two-thirds of the way done.”

      If so, is there an extra charge for that?

      1. take the Red Line to Metro Center, then transfer to the Silver Line out to Wiehle Ave.

        Once you get to Wiehle Ave, there are signs to go to the bus (NOTE: you go to the left exit–not to the right, where the county buses are). It’s a 3-5m walk to get to the Silver Line Flyer from the station.

        The Flyer runs every ~15m and costs $5, which you pay on arrival at IAD. You can use cash or card, although card takes a bit longer to process. The trip takes about 10m.

        1. Thank you very much, preston. I am very familiar with the Red Line as that is what I would normally take to visit the family member whom I have mentioned…

          …and thank you for the more detailed information pertaining to the Silver Line, as I have never taken that line before.

      2. There are 2 bus options from Wiehle-Reston to IAD. The Sliver Line Express costs $5 each way and takes about 15 minutes. It runs about every 20 minutes.

        The 981 or 983 Fairfax Connector bus costs $1.75 and takes as much as 45 minutes in my (admittedly limited) experience.

        At rush hour, is $5.90 with a smart trip card (an extra buck if you don’t have one).
        Off-peak the fare is down to $3.60 (with the same $1 surcharge if you use a paper ticket instead of a smart trip card)

        1. My flight is scheduled to depart at 1:30 in the afternoon; so I believe that I am in luck — if off-peak is sometime after 10:00 in the morning.

          Thank you for the excellent information, Miriam. I appreciate the assistance from you and other readers of The Gate.

      3. while i definitely defer to preston’s knowledge since i haven’t lived in DC for over a decade, you could also consider metrobus 5A. it will take you from l’enfant plaza metro station directly to dulles. i have used it on weekends in the past and with no traffic it’s actually not too bad… only has a couple of stops before the airport and is not generally too crowded. of course, i would never use it on a weekday or weekend evening.

        also, by then, i’m guessing you will REALLY be sick of buses 😀

        happy travels!

        1. Forget about multiple metro transfers to Silver line to the flyer or Fairfax connector bus to the airport. Unless you are dying to try out the Silver line (nothing different from the older metro lines, just the name), take 5A bus from either L’Enfant or Rosslyn metro station – I’ve done both. @Rosslyn sometimes there are fewer seats available as people fill up the bus with large suite cases at L’Enfant (not enough suite case spaces/racks). But you probably would be alright in the middle of the day on a weekday. If you are a worry wort type, then just board at L’Enfant and have you pick of seats.

          1. I remember years ago taking a bus from Dulles Airport towards Washington, D.C.; and the fare was ten dollars. Was that the 5A bus? I am trying to remember.

            Thank you, Yana.

        2. Fortunately, I pack light, pavel — but just the same, I will keep the time of when I should travel in mind.

          As for buses — well…I am about to post my Megabus experience…

  1. I would check Amtrak or southwest for a last minute miracle. The traffic on 95 is the worst. Be sure you pack a lot of blankets – or towels – the buses are notoriously freezing. I had even started takingduct tape to cover up the events when they got to be so horribly frigid. And handwarmers. And an eye mask. And ear plugs. And toilet paper. I used to take the bus often, but then one day I remembered I’m a grown up with a job, and sometimes comfort is really worth a lot of money.

    PS if you take Southwest to BWI, you can take Amtrak to union station.

    1. Thank you for the advice, MegaAlum!

      I plan on wearing my clothes in layers anyway — not because of how cold it can get aboard a Megabus; but rather because Washington, D.C. will be quite cold and I am traveling to warm climates.

      By wearing as much clothing as possible, I carry less in my bag.

      Megabus is not a habit of mine; so I agree with you about the comfort worth a lot of money…

      …but then again, a trip like this causes me to appreciate comfort all that much more — if that makes any sense…

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