This month, Megabus began private bus service to passengers traveling from Tampa, Orlando, and Miami. For the rest of May they are offering One Dollar ($1.00) fares to encourage people to ride the bus. My friends and I decided it would be fun to make a day trip from Tampa to Orlando and back. On its first day of service, we arrived at the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit station in downtown Tampa (HART) to begin our journey. Megabus has an agreement with HART to use the Marion Transit Center station for its Tampa connector. There are fifteen parking spaces reserved for Megabus passengers to use free of charge. A HART employee explained they do not guarantee or provide security for vehicles left overnight.
As 1:30 pm came and went, standing under shelters to avoid the rain and oppressive humidity, we were told the bus was delayed on its route from Miami to Tampa. It finally arrived around 3:00 pm and we boarded for our trip to Orlando. We had planned to arrive in Orlando at 3:00 pm and enjoy a late lunch from 3:00 pm until we had to board the bus for the return trip scheduled for departure at 4:30 pm. Instead, we arrived in Orlando at 4:30 pm, which was the time we were supposed to get back on the bus to return to Tampa. So we got off the one bus and got on the other and after about a half hour we took off to Tampa, arriving at the station close to 7:00 pm. We did not get to eat lunch in Orlando like we planned and if it wasn't for my Ritz peanut butter crackers and a couple of bags of honey roasted peanuts I bought, just in case, we might have succumbed. It was fun though, and the bus was nice. The bus was a double-decker and we rode on the top level, giving us a great view of the scenery along I-4. It was equipped with wifi and outlets for electricity. The wifi connection was easy to access, although we were not able to get a connection on the bus we rode on our return trip to Tampa.
The drop off site in Orlando was about four or five blocks from the Lynx bus stop, which would have been quite a hike if one needed to make a connection to the Orlando buses.
All in all it was an interesting experience. I suspect these glitches will be corrected and the timing will be more reliable. One thing immediately apparent is the importance of having a cell phone to be able to speak with whomever you may be meeting to keep them updated in the event of any delays. I am just glad it was a joy ride and I did not have a pressing appointment or needed to make a connection in Orlando.
Megabus offers the $1.00 fare each way through the end of May. They will offer at least one $1.00 ticket on future trips. The trip from Tampa to Orlando and back cost a total of Four Dollars ($4.00) including service charges.
Just make sure you bring a snack!