In an effort to not sound like a complete dick, i have to preface this post with the fact that yes, i did only pay $23.25 for a four and a half hour bus from New York to Washington D.C which is a number that doesn’t seem like enough to go anywhere. I should also mention that my first ride with Megabus was a much better ride than that of the second. pleasant almost in comparison.
What exactly went wrong
‘Everything’ might be too broad a term, but save the bus breaking down there wasn’t much that didn’t happen. In short the bus that should take ‘4 hours 20 minutes’ (from Megabus’ website) took close to 8 hours. Where did 3 hours go? In my opinion half was due to traffic, which was at some points bad, but the other half of the responsibility lands squarely on the first bus drivers shoulders. Startlingly, we left on time.
But it really went downhill from there. within 2 minutes of exiting the parking lot on H Street in Washington D.C. the driver had made a wrong turn. While, admittedly, i was not at the front of the bus and could not see the streets ahead, i had seen other Megabus’ leaving from that area as well as walking extensively around that area over the weekend. When, 50 mins later we were passing the parking lot from which we had departed it was clear that he had gotten hopelessly lost in D.C.’s china town. see the map below for the correct route out and an approximation of the route our driver took.
After that we hit traffic, queuing most of the way out to the Washington-Baltimore parkway and up part of it. During this and the roads after it, the driver showed a lack of commitment to his job. Driving consistently slower than traffic that passed–sometimes on both sides–with no energy, listlessly floating down the highway.
The Bus makes one stop, north of Baltimore, which after departing the bus driver subsequently got lost again (proving that the first was indeed him doing it wrong). After 15 mins of sitting in a parking lot of a housing complex trying to turn around we were back on the road, creeping up the coast.
After getting into Jersey, the bus driver pulled over a claimed that he had run out of ‘driving hours’ while i don’t have a problem with this rule or law (i don’t know what it is exactly), it made the whole situation seem like he was consciously trying to run down his hours by driving slower, thereby putting him closer to ‘home,’ wherever that is. He seemed like a nice guy while we waited for the replacement driver to arrive, but i feel there was something else going on.
45 minutes later the replacement driver arrived, who took off like any other driver would. The remaining two hours went quickly, with a driver who was really dedicated to the job she was doing–or maybe just pissed off that she had to come out and collect us.
Do i have a right to complain? In today’s broken-service economy, probably not (you know the one where airlines charge to lose your baggage). At $23.25 a ticket, you take what comes. In the end they got you there, regardless of how long it took. The problem with the travel industry is that there are so many things that can interfere, weather traffic etc it gets hard to tell it apart from when the company is doing something wrong. while this driver may have “dilly-dallied” his way up I-95, he technically did nothing wrong in the end.