Tales from the Megabus
When I graduated with my Ph.D., I took a job in DC, more specifically northern Virginia (Alexandria). I made a deal with the company to work remotely from Pittsburgh. My wife wanted to teach Italian and live close to her family, and I wanted to support her career too. Of course, Pittsburgh also had a lower cost of living. I initially drove down, but I found it to more affordable to take the Megabus.
Here is a sample of the tracking sheet I had for my trips, color coded for your enjoyment:
Here is my usual itinerary:
I kept an extensive record of costs for tax purposes. I drove a few times, and at some point I was renting a car, but I greatly cut my expenses once I stopped renting a car and just left an old car down there. The Megabus was cheaper than the Metro.
A breakdown of the number of days I was in-transit and away from home.
From riding so frequently, I was able to accurately count the probability of a bus breaking down on any particular trip. The trend doesn’t look so good…
I usually was obnoxious, and I had an inflatable pillow. I also had a tray with my computer so I could work without overheating my legs. On top of that, I developed a decent strategy to deter people from sitting next to me if all that other stuff wasn’t enough.
That’s not me in the picture, but that is the same seat cushion business I would use. I also used a wood table so my legs wouldn’t hurt from a hot computer sitting on them for six hours. I took two L-brackets for each side so that I could lock it in place while moving. This helped having a steady computer tray.
Thankfully, I don’t have to travel like that in my current job. It got very difficult with kids, but at the time, it worked out well for me.
An interesting side effect of riding the Megabus was meeting people. So many different people from different socio-economic groups rode the Megabus, and because it was a cheap ride, there wasn’t much room. Being that closely packed in meant conversations usually occurred. I met other people who were commuting for work. I met families that used multiple Megabus trips to go see family in an affordable way. I had so many wonderful conversations, a few even in Italian. I really thought the Megabus caused people to interact in a way that isn’t so common anymore.
Here’s to you Megabus! My home for 168 rides at 6 hours a piece (so 42 complete days, excluding the time spent while the bus broke down).