The Great Bus Battle: Greyhound vs. Megabus

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I recently took a little three-day getaway trip from Minneapolis to Chicago. Since driving through Chicago is a major pain, I figured this would be a good time to test the two big Midwestern bus companies – the oh-so-trendy Megabus, and the eternally derided Greyhound.  So how do the two stack up?

Stations:
Despite the scuzzy reputation, Greyhound’s stations are actually pretty nice.  Security guards, remarkably clean restrooms, and a solid selection of vended goods. Megabus, on the other hand, picks you up and drops you off on an unstaffed, poorly-marked street corner.  This one isn’t even close.

WINNER: Greyhound

Bus Quality:
Megabus’ fleet is newer than Greyhound’s, which means the buses come with fresher upholstery, cleaner aisles, and free Wi-Fi, although the latter is frequently broken.  The buses on the Minneapolis-Chicago run are double-deckers, which has a certain UK touristy appeal to it  – but it also means that they don’t have overhead storage space for luggage.  Greyhound had more legroom and significantly more storage space for baggage.  When you’re 6’3” that last piece means a lot.

WINNER: Draw

Ride Quality:
Bboth the Megabus and the Greyhound I rode were quiet.  Megabus seemed to have a few overchatty students and a driver intercom that must have been turned to 11, while Greyhound had a crying baby and a very smelly guy.  Nothing too traumatic in either case.

WINNER: Draw

Fares:
On Megabus, if you buy 2-3 weeks in advance, you can get a Minneapolis to Chicago ticket for $5-10, especially if you take the overnight bus.  Greyhound doesn’t go below $25.  But if you’re buying even a week out, it’s pretty much a wash – Megabus’ fares quickly rise to match Greyhound’s.

WINNER: Megabus, if you’re the plan-ahead type.  Otherwise, draw.

Speed:
Megabus covered the trip in eight hours – ahead of schedule, and including a generous half hour rest stop.  Greyhound’s overnight trip took eight and a half hours, but their day trips take up to nine and a half.  More stops means more time on the bus, and although Greyhound has cut down on the number of dull Wisconsin cities where buses stop, Megabus clearly takes the “Express” mantra more to heart.

WINNER: Megabus

The Verdict:
If you’re planning well in advance of your trip, and it’s a quick getaway, Megabus is probably the smarter ticket. You can get a lower fare (although probably not that much lower), it’s a bit quicker, and you might get Wi-Fi if the gods are smiling on you.  That being said, although Greyhound is a bit less efficient and probably an hour slower, there’s more legroom, a much more generous luggage allowance, a wider range of destinations, and legitimate stations.  All in all, either is a cheap and reasonably pleasant way to get away.

WINNER: On points, Megabus.  But it’s close.

11 Comments

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11 responses to “The Great Bus Battle: Greyhound vs. Megabus

  1. Sam

    my dad drives a greyhound but even if he didnt id still like greyhound better. the service, the drivers, and the toilets are much better.

  2. Valerie

    This post looks like it will be helpful – thanks! Great website :)

  3. ergo

    It’d be interesting to know how many were on each bus. If there’s a “bunch of students” v. a mother, child, and a stinky man, perhaps the madding crowd might indicate that megabus is the winner by more than just a nose.

  4. which one has more room for big luggage?

  5. watton

    let me just say the megabus blows out greyhound by a landslide i ride from state college pa, to pittsburgh pa every weekn now lets compare
    megabus 2hrs 10min/gh about 4-5 hrs
    megabus price 3$ to 18$ /gh 25$ to 40$
    megabus bathroom is cleaner and more comfortable

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  7. FlyingBoat

    I just took a trip from MIN-MIL on Greyhound and returned on Megabus. I rate Greyhound a 10 and Megabus a 2. The Greyhound bus was new and comfy. The problem with the Megabus is they cannot seem to control the temperature! I had freezing cold air blowing on me and the vent could not be shut off. Other passengers were freezing as well. The driver said the temp is automatic preset and they cannot change the A/C. Another passenger said they were told the same thing on an earlier journey and they needed to buy a blanket enroute to try to survive the trip. Our driver turned on the heat along with the A/C which made it bearable, but then the last hour of the trip was miserably hot. Absurd that they have such poor control on the temperature. The upper level swayed and jerked around a lot as well.

  8. I prefer greyhound over megabus. It’s plain old creepy to wait for a bus on a street corner, never mind when the weather is poor. Greyhound stations, I have found, are clean, with restrooms, and oh yeah, a roof over your head. I’m on the megabus right now and the seats are so crapped tight compared to the nice leather seats greyhound offers. I’m 5’0″ and 100lbs so if I’m uncomfortable, I’m sure others are too. I know it’s nice to save a few bucks on megabus, but overall greyhound is better prepared and at least have live people to talk to when you buy your tickets. If only these reps for both companies weren’t so rude.

  9. The megabus system is rather confusing, and the street corner station thing is rather annoying. Their wifi is better than greyhound, however. Also, greyhounds seem to like to break every now and then.
    However Megabus only travels between major cities, while greyhound goes well… darn near everywhere. They are also more pleasant to travel internationally with.

    Happen to live in a big city, and want to go to another big city–> megabus
    Want to go from Amarillo TX to Thornbury Ontario? —> Greyhound

  10. I’m looking forward to having Megabus expand more through the southern United States. My last Greyhound fare from Nashville To Jackson, MS was 140 dollars when the Megabus fare wouldn’t have been over 40. Considering the quality of most bus stations in the south (nightmarish), I would much rather show up at a stop and have the bus pick me up so I wouldn’t have to deal with any of the horrible people I dealt with my last trip. Greyhound also has a no refund policy that I’m still fighting with them over the phone about. There were huge delays on my ride, everything smelled like pee, and everyone was incredibly rude to me throughout my fourteen hour trip. Not sure about Megabus’ policy, but if I’m going to have a crappy bus ride, I’d feel a lot better if I didn’t spend an arm and a leg on it in the first place.

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