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D.C. to NYC: Twice the Bus

Andrea Sachs

MegaBus has doubled its seating and, yes, doubled the fun. Yesterday, the U.K. operator, which last month kicked off cheapie service to Manhattan, unveiled a double-decker bus -- you know, the kind that is usually seen toting around bug-eyed tourists, not driving 65 along the interstate.

(Courtesy of MegaBus)

The two-layered bus will join its single sisters on 11 daily routes between the two cities. Seats will start at $1 (plus 50 cents for online booking, $3 by phone). Its schedule is not yet set, and currently there is no way of knowing which type of bus you will be riding. (Also in flux: the pick-up point in D.C. It is currently at 11th and G streets NW, but may eventually move to L'Enfant Plaza.)

If you are lucky enough to get one of the 80-odd seats on the DD, here are some reasons why you can sit back and enjoy the ride. First, the buses are eco-sound. According to data from the Department of Transportation, double-deckers can potentially supplant 79 cars from the highway. In addition, they only use .46 gallons of fuel per passenger (20 percent less than a standard bus), and emit 10 times less carbon dioxide per passenger miles, as compared to cars. Second, the buses come with free WiFi, movies shown on overhead video screens and bud headphones that you can pocket without guilt.

Best of all is the seating. On the bottom level are two tables with cup holders and places for four. The loo is also on the lower level. Two staircases lead to a brighter, airier section, with the best seats in the house: A foursome in the front, with a large windshield, cup holders and sun shield you can pull up and down all the way to Penn Station.

Don Carmichael, senior VP of operations and safety, said sitting upstairs in the front was like a carnival ride. Indeed, you do feel like you're in a stalled Ferris wheel cab, towering over the Smurf-scale landscape below. In addition, because you're so high up and the bus is so outsize, when coming around turns, it looks like Godzilla the Bus is crushing the little cars. Cool.

Personally, during my mock ride, I liked pretending that I was the bus driver. If I ever ride it for real, I might have to bring along a steering wheel, just to freak out the people on earth.

By Andrea Sachs |  June 18, 2008; 6:21 AM ET  | Category:  Andrea Sachs , Bus Travel , Mid-Atlantic Destinations , Travel Trends
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Can this thing really squeeze through the Lincoln Tunnel? And the ramps at the Port Authority? If I'm sitting on the top deck, I hope so. Still, I if it all checks out, would be fun to ride just for the different view.

Posted by: Tom | June 18, 2008 6:54 AM

i took the megabus last week, and i was a little disappointed. first of all, the bus was 30 minutes late, but since there's no one from megabus at the stop, no one knew what was going on. secondly, although in a previous blog post WaPo writers said there would be movies - none were shown. and lastly, there was a stop in baltimore that we had no idea about. it was a short stop, but still took 15-20 minutes out of the way. however, its still better than the nasty, dirty, and smelly greyhound.

Posted by: megabus passenger | June 18, 2008 9:12 AM

Priced so that Randolph or Mortimer Duke could ride with their winnings. Nicely done.

Posted by: Jerk | June 18, 2008 10:10 AM

I sat in the front of the upper level of a double decker bus in London several years ago. It was the only time I ever got carsick. Maybe it was being on the upper deck in the front seat, maybe it was driving on the left. It certainly wasn't the bus going too fast, it was central London and nothing moves fast there!

Hmmmmm, maybe the DC area commuter buses should go double-decker. Get more cars off the road.

Posted by: Dan | June 18, 2008 10:40 AM

I actually wish there weren't movies. I was trying to get some sleep on the afternoon bus and one of those terrible "Madea" movies was playing at full blast.

Posted by: Svenskporr | June 18, 2008 10:51 AM

Did I read that right? Seats start at one DOLLAR?!

Posted by: kc | June 18, 2008 11:16 AM

The fuel consumption figure makes no sense to me. Perhaps it can be clarified.

Posted by: Wendell | June 18, 2008 11:52 AM

I checked the prices. The rate is $14 one way. So a round trip totals $28. about the same as Chinatown or Jewish bus services. Don't know where "starting from $1" came from...

Posted by: Amy | June 18, 2008 2:57 PM

Amy, prices start at $1, and change as the seats are filled. I think the price max is $20 or $25 if you are buying at the very last minute.

Posted by: dana | June 18, 2008 3:30 PM

79 cars? More like 4

Posted by: Anonymous | June 18, 2008 4:26 PM

Avtually, DDOT is trying to force this and all other "Chinatown" busses to L'Enfant for a year. Reeks of a lobbying effort by greyhound and peter pan, who have responded poorly to competition. Maybe a little reporting is called for to suss this out.

Posted by: j | June 18, 2008 4:26 PM

I took Megabus during their first week when they offered free rides to anyone who booked far enough in advance. the bus was deserted, clean and early both ways to NYC. I just booked a second trip in August. Roundtrip for two people is $16 total. It's a great deal if you can plan ahead.

Posted by: Ryan | June 18, 2008 5:09 PM

We really need Amtrak to be more price competitive!! Why is our rail system such a failure??

Posted by: Andrew | June 18, 2008 8:41 PM

Andrew. So you want to be able to take Amtrak to NYC from DC for $5.00 if you are the first one to buy a ticket?? How much of your taxes do you want going to Amtrak? Don't get me wrong I love to go by train, infact I am doing a round trip from Philly to Pittsburgh this weekend. Except for the Acela trains on the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak IS price competitive. You just have to be flexible in when you travel to get the cheapist seats. You also have to look at the cost of trains compaired with busses. The buses from Megabus are brand new, so have little maintanence issues at this point. The Engines on Amtrak are a different issue, and you have to take into consideration rail upkeep and right of way fees. Except for Tolls, Megabus doesn't pay for road upkeep.

Posted by: rja112 | June 19, 2008 12:25 AM

Acutally, in theory the buses pay for road upkeep through their gas taxes. Alas, not all states actually use gas taxes for road upkeep, which is probably why a lot of roads and bridges are in such bad shape. Compare it to Tennessee, which consistantly is rated by truckers as having some of the best roads in the nation. The rest of the state is going broke, but the roads are in great shape b/c they cannot use gas tax revenue for anything but roads.

Sorry for being a bit off topic, but it was brought up that they weren't paying for maintainence.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 19, 2008 8:27 AM

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