To Bus or Not to Bus?

When you get to London, everyone will tell you about the great travel fares on the railways and discount airlines like EasyJet and Ryan Air. This is true enough, if you are organized and have your stuff together to book trips in advance. But if you are a more free spirited, spur of the moment type individual like myself, planes and trains may not be your best bet.

For trips within the UK, there is another more cost effective option. Last minute travelers should consider taking the Megabus. This low-cost coach company offers service to over 110 destinations in England, Scotland and Wales. It operates out of the easily accessible Victoria Coach station, located just a few minute walk from the Victoria tube stop.

While these are all pluses, the most appealing feature of the Megabus is its dirt-cheap prices. Megabus caters to a student budget. If you book a few days in advance, most weekend round trips are between fifteen and forty pounds. The first six lucky passengers to book, may pay only a pound each way.

However, after just a few trips on the Megabus I have learned you most definitely get what you pay for. For starters, trips by bus are a major time commitment. The Megabus tends to take twice as long as the train. While the longer journey time can be bearable, the same cannot always be said of the accommodations.

On my nine and a half hour ride home from Edinburgh, I was trapped on a malfunctioning bus with no heat and intermittent bursts of air-conditioning. The driver was unapologetic and told us refunds were out of the questions. I spent the night curled up in the fetal position trying to ignore the snow and the freezing temperatures. By morning I had a full on cold. After that experience I vowed I would never again patronize the Megabus… and then booked it again the next week because of its unbeatable roundtrip price to Manchester.

So, what is my final take on the Megabus? For a short trip grin and bare it. The price makes it worth it, and in London you need all the financial breaks you can get. But, for extended last minute travel (say to Scotland, Northern England, or outer Wales), it may be best to just bite the bullet and pay for a train or plane ride.  You may even consider waiting and scheduling your trips for a few weeks later. Busing might get you there eventually and save you money but, its not worth your physical comfort and health.

By: Joanie Jockel


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