Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Megabus Experience

The Megabus began serving "Raleigh/Durham" a few months ago. That's "Raleigh/Durham" in quotes because, quiet as it's kept, there is no city name Raleigh/Durham or even Raleigh-Durham. Raleigh-Durham is an airport. (Excuse my annoyance.)

Anyway the stop for the Megabus around here is in Durham, at the Durham Station Transportation Center which was completed in 2009. It's the hub for Durham's DATA buses (Durham Area Transit System) not to be confused with data bus techies can stop groaning now. Raleigh's hub is the traffic jam at the corner of Martin and Fayetteville Streets.

I had the opportunity to be the Russian chauffeur Pikop Andropov ("pick up and drop off") from the Car Talk show this weekend. The Megabus website said the bus stop for Durham was at 275 Jackson Street across from the Durham Station Transportation Center. So I got my directions to take the Durham Freeway to the Duke Street exit and turn right on Jackson Street. The only problem was the Duke street exit was closed for construction. So I had my passenger enter the address in the GPS, after we took the Chapel Hill Street exit. I could see the Transportation Center in the distance, but I had no idea which side was on Jackson Street. The GPS lady seemed to have me going in circles until she finally said, "Turn right on Jackson have reached your destination."

I drove up and down that block hoping to see a big blue bus, even entered the Transportation Center where it said "Buses only," and asked a pedestrian, "Can you tell me where the Megabus picks up?" "Sorry, I don't know." I finally found a woman who told me, "You just passed it. It's that sign on the left with the Yellow Man on it."

Sure enough. The bus stop is a sign. You can see the Durham Transportation Center behind it, and the Ligett & Myers Tobacco Company on the hill above it. Just about that time the big blue bus turned the corner, and several other cars converged on that block to do their Pikop Andropov. My passenger crossed the street and boarded. Who rides the Megabus to/from Durham? I saw some of everybody. Some looked like they might be students at the local colleges, Duke, Chapel Hill, NC Central. The exchange happened quickly and the big blue bus was on its way in a short time.

I haven't ridden a public bus since my college days when Greyhound and Trailways ruled the road. The Megabus provides express service between a growing list of cities. The price to ride from Durham to Charlotte is $21 each way. That's cheaper than the cost of gas, and you can sleep through the traffic.

I went back today to pick up my passenger from his overnight visit. This time the Duke Street exit was open and a line had formed at the bus stop, waiting for their ride to Washington, DC.

The American Tobacco Historic district was behind me when I took the pictures of the bus stop.

The Megabus will be expanding to Atlanta on November 16 and will be offering free seats for travel between Nov. 16 and Dec. 16. The free seats will be available on departures to and from Atlanta and the 11 expansion cities. Use the promo code ATL10K when booking (subject to availability on select dates, routes).

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