Megabus LA to SF, a review
Replies: 16 - Last Post: Aug 16, 2013 11:31 PM Last Post By: sfgirl42
Jan 11, 2013 8:21 PM
Megabus LA to SF, a reviewMegabus is back in California, so posting a review of my recent LA to SF (Oakland) ride. Will likely be a popular option for the young, cheap, carless travelers, so am comparing it to Greyhound. Would compare to Amtrak but only direct option is the Coast Starlight and that's a very different .
Price: Megabus: $29; Greyhound: it used to be $45+ but they now have an advance purchase $29 option (top price is around $70). Competition! Assume the legendary $1 Megabus fares exist, but I bought my ticket the day before leaving.
LA location: Greyhound: the terminal generally gets reviewed as the scariest place ever and one you should never attempt to walk to, especially at night. And it lacks public transit access. Megabus: Union Station (bus depot in the back). Excellent metro and bus connections, very safe and now has food options. Beware that the bathrooms near the bus area are closed at night.
SF/Oakland location: Greyhound: Oakland terminal is near BART but I wouldn't go walking around at night. SF terminal at the temporary Transbay Terminal, so in a trailer but near Montgomery/Embarcadero BART. Megabus: Oakland terminal is the West Oakland BART. A few bus options and while a much improved neighborhood, I wouldn't go strolling. SF stop is the Cal Train terminal. Has a trolley and buses but about 15 minutes to BART and not fun with bags. San Jose stops for both are in downtown SJ.
Terminals: While Greyhound has real terminals, Megabus just has bus stops. LA location is easy to find. At West Oakland BART, they stop at the bus stop and am not sure I saw a sign. Ditto at the SF terminal, though I was just passing through and didn't look around or asking for help. This is mostly to say that if you're easily lost or are dropping off someone who isn't a savvy traveller, plan for confusion.
Customer Service/Ease of us: Megabus e-mails you a confirmation number upon purchase and you give that info to the driver. There is no physical ticket. This works well with a smart phone, but otherwise, you will need to print your e-mail. Greyhound now allows you to print your ticket at home. Otherwise, you need to print it at a 7/11 (I don't get that either) or stand in a long line at the terminal.At the LA stop, Megabus just had two guys checking your confirmation number and loading your tickets. Not sure they are equipped to deal with problem and there are definitely no on-site sales. Also, Megabus seems to cut off sales an uncertain number of hours before departure. Good news is that Megabus doesn't oversell tickets.
Comfort: while Megabus has WIFI and double decker buses, the seats themselves (pitch, width, padding, roominess and ability to recline) are about the same. But yes, the crowd is younger and hipper.
Finally, Megabus has 5 buses per day which stop in either Oakland or San Jose. One of those buses arrives circa 3am which is a no go if you're relying on public transit. Greyhound has a lot more buses and more stops.
In addition to the LA/SF service, Megabus also offers LA/Riverside/Vegas and SF/Sacramento/Sparks, NV.
Jan 12, 2013 3:23 AM
1Thanks for the review! I live in LA and used to fly to Oakland, then BART to SF...but with the higher airfares and hassles it's not worth it...but I'm also not ready to do the drive so had read about and considered the Megabus.
I had read that the Megabus pickup place in LA was adjacent to the Denny's across from the Transit Plaza (Vignes Street). Can you confirm that it has moved, as there isn't a food place at the Transit Plaza.
But for those who might drive to catch the bus, parking under the MTA tower (at the Transit Plaza) is only $6 per day...yes, SIX dollars per day...I went there to get a bus pass (local) and read the charges myself.
There's a parking lot accessible from the front entrance to Union Station but it's at least double that price, if not more...
Anyway, hope you had a great time while you were in SF...I envy you being there...
Jan 12, 2013 6:15 AM
2Thanks for the review, it's nice to know. I've only ever done Amtrak and Greyhound in USA so can't compare with others. Nice to hear what you have to say about the competition.
Jan 12, 2013 6:42 AM
Jan 12, 2013 6:50 AM
4It doesn't apply for this particular trip, but another disadvantage to Megabus is their regional ticketing process. If you want to travel to, say, Reno, from LA, you have to buy a ticket from LA to SF, then a second ticket from SF to Sparks (outside Reno). With Greyhound, you buy just the one ticket, even if you have to transfer with them as well.
This is especially troublesome in the east if you want to make a longer journey (Memphis to Knoxville, Knoxville to DC, DC to NY, for example).
Jan 12, 2013 6:56 AM
Jan 12, 2013 9:20 AM
Jan 12, 2013 2:06 PM
Jan 12, 2013 5:20 PM
Jan 13, 2013 3:35 AM
Jan 14, 2013 7:32 PM
10Agreed, "regional ticketing" is definitely an area where Megabus loses points. Obviously, Greyhound also serves a ton more locations, has more buses per day, runs various routes, etc.
Not sure about bicycles. Feel like their website doesn't address anything beyond straight luggage issues. It definitely looked like there was room in the luggage hold for a bike. Again though, one of those areas in which the Megabus bare bones customer service makes it tough to know their policy.
Jan 14, 2013 7:40 PM
11Oh and Megabus' LA stop is in the Patsouras Transit Plaza (so the area behind Union Station). Guess they got "official" and moved from the Denny's parking lot. Their slot is clearly marked and they are next to the LAX Airport bus.
Also meant to add that the overnight Megabus arrives in Oakland around 6am and there is no BART service until 8am on Sundays. However, the night buses from San Francisco are still running. Not sure of the extent of AC Transit night service and I believe that Muni's regular buses are running by the time that bus reaches SF.
Jan 14, 2013 9:59 PM
Jan 16, 2013 7:15 PM
Jul 11, 2013 12:46 PM
14Follow up post since I again took Megabus from LA to Oakland and back. I took the late afternoon (5pm/4:30pm) bus both ways.
Traffic out of LA wasn't great but I think that's to be expected and not just because it was the afternoon before 7/4. The bus arrived late and we departed about 20 minutes late. By the time we cleared traffic, we were an hour behind. Megabus doesn't account for that at all in their schedule, so the 11:20pm arrival time in Oakland was never going to happen. I was getting picked up at Oakland but if you're counting on taking BART before it stops running, have an alternate plan.
Return to LA was late as well due to holiday Sunday traffic on the 5. Again, this seems like par for the course since there will always either be traffic leaving SF or traffic on the 5, so beware if you are counting on taking the last subway train (I know, a subway in LA?).
I suggest arriving at the Megabus stop about 30 or 15 minutes prior to departure, more if you're picky about where you're going to sit. It seemed like most passengers got on or off in Oakland. And don't be late. While they let on the late arrivals leaving LA cause the bus was late already, in Oakland, the bus left on time and the driver wouldn't stop for a couple who were trying to catch the bus via cab.
WiFi seemed a bit spotty at times but maybe that was the device I was using. I don't think the Oakland stop is "marked" but there will be a guy there with a sign. Megabus doesn't issue tickets, you just get an e-mail with your confirmation number which the bus will need to see (they have nothing listed under names), so do yourself a favor and print out the confirmation number in case of smart phone malfunction or inability to find the confirmation e-mail.
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