Overnight Megabus to New York from Toronto: From Hellride to Joyride


I honestly dreaded having to take the overnight double-decker MegaBus ride from Toronto to NYC two nights ago (after being at the TBEX Conference for a few days). Although I’m a veteran bus rider, I just didn’t look forward to an 11-hour ride (midnight to 11 am the next day).

But I had no choice. I didn’t want to lose a day on an Amtrak train and the flight was too expensive. So I opted for the overnight Megabus.


Loud Snorer Behind Me

That night, things didn’t go well at first. I made the mistake of sitting in front of a man whose snores bordered on snort-like gurgles…or gurgle-like snorts. Whatever that sound was, it was so loud, it seemed he might gag on his adenoid tissue.

It was awful!

Worse yet? My industrial-strength earplugs were useless.

Rude Cellphone User In Front of Me

Meanwhile, two seats ahead, a woman was chatting on her cellphone. Was she keeping her voice down? Hell no. She was chatting like the bus was her living room and no one else was around.

Only heavy metal on my iPod could drown her out.

So there I was, wondering what to do. Where would I go? All the seats were taken (one person per two seats, resting or sleeping on both).

Solution? Move Downstairs.

I moved to the lower deck of the bus. I thought I was doomed there, too. It looked just like the upstairs, with all the seats taken.

But then, a glimmer of hope.  Four facing seats with a table in between. The catch? A woman  was sleeping, her legs sprawled out and onto the seats on the other side.

I couldn’t just sit down. She would have to move.

It was my only hope. I had to wake her up.

“Excuse me,” I said several times, nervously. “Can I sit here?” After several attempts, I lightly tapped her arm.

Trinidadian-Canadian Woman = Angel of Mercy

She woke up and to my relief, I learned that she was from Toronto (originally from Trinidad). She was nice. Really nice. Like the other Torontonians I’d met over the past few days. She said, “Of course, go right ahead.” She even smiled.

I wanted to kiss the ring on her finger.

She got up, adjusted how she was sitting. I sat down opposite her. I tried to get cozy. It wasn’t easy.

I had no neck pillow. Just some dirty clothes.

I did what I could.

After we crossed the border, I met two other nearby passengers. Josh and Evan. Two brothers. Somehow, we got talking…

That’s when things really turned around.

Two Bros Sharing Horror Stories

It began with me noticing the younger brother, Evan, shivering. The bus was that cold! The AC was cranked to the max.


Meet Josh–Evan’s brother

(Sorry about the quality of some of the photos; the lighting was poor.)

Soon, we were sharing bus ride tips (Karen was the true expert, telling us how she scored $1 bus trips) and ‘bus horror stories’. The brothers, who are super bright and sweet, have taken all kinds of buses and have encountered the best and the worst fellow passengers along the way.

The more we talked, the more we laughed.

Ride the Bus with Us via Video

Want to be there with me/us for 1:45 minutes–some of the funniest moments of the journey? Check out the video.

  • Meet Karen and hear her infectious laughter
  • Hear Evan tell his story re: the bus driver who jumped ship when his shift ended, thus abandoning the passengers in the middle of NYC
  • Listen to me thanking Karen and her laughing yet again
  • Hear Josh tell his story re: the horror movie character who made his life hell on a Greyhound bus

Ride Over–Smiles Still on Our Faces

Eventually, like the other passengers, we fell asleep and woke up many hours later.

The ride was over–11 hours of it. Although most of us were groggy, we were happy. We’d somehow had fun and gotten some sleep. It was no different than being on a long, overnight flight that begins and ends with great conversation and a just-right group dynamic.

And for me, that’s what it’s all about. Connecting with others. Whether traveling overseas or right here in North America.

In retrospect, if I could do it again, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Moving forward, however, if I want to travel to Toronto and I find a cheap flight, I’ll grab it!

Toronto at night

Your Thoughts/Reactions

Have you ever taken the Megabus? If so, how long were you on it and how was the ride? How about Greyhound? Any overnight journeys? Did you sleep? Meet people? Read?

Any horror stories? Positive tales to share?

Like This Story?

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It’s chock full of quirky stories–and some serious ones, too. Here are two links to check out:

A post I wrote that describes the book in depth

The book over on Amazon–including a description several reviews

23 Responses to Overnight Megabus to New York from Toronto: From Hellride to Joyride
  1. Jeruen
    June 4, 2013 | 2:04 am

    Oh, I remember one time in 2009, when I did a very spontaneous trip to Boston from Buffalo. I had enough miles to fly one-way, and since there were available flights to go back (but not to go there), I opted to take the night bus from Buffalo to Boston.

    Oh god, the bus was one hour delayed, the bus driver was a newbie who felt like he was just pushed into the job one day before, and believe it or not, it was the passengers who gave the bus driver directions when the driver couldn’t find the location of the bus stops in small towns in the middle of New York State. I was a student then (read: penny-pincher), but now, I think I’d avoid long-distance buses if I can.
    Jeruen recently posted..Traversing the Ardennes: Brussels Centre-VilleMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      June 4, 2013 | 2:11 am

      The passengers gave directions to the bus driver? Yikes. That’s crazy!

      I remember being a student and having no money. So glad that’s no longer the case. Now, I’m a poor professor… :)

      Long-distance buses can really be a drag. If I had stayed in my original seat, last night would have been hellish. So glad I moved. I really did have a great time!

  2. Hogga
    June 4, 2013 | 9:59 am

    i’ve always wanted to do this
    Hogga recently posted..The Worst Vacation EverMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      June 4, 2013 | 10:38 am

      Have you? Very cool. I think we would have had even more fun if you’d been there!

      By the way, did you check out the video? Just wondering. Thx!

  3. Erik
    June 4, 2013 | 7:53 pm

    Better you than me on this one, friend, better you than me :-)
    Erik recently posted..Times Square Photo EssayMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      June 4, 2013 | 8:51 pm

      LOL! :) Seriously, it was fun…

  4. Steve Collins
    June 4, 2013 | 11:51 pm

    Even in Ontario/NY you find a chickybus. What a talent! I’m with you. I’d fly next time. But now you’ve had the experience. How does it compare?
    Steve Collins recently posted..Santa Fe Tidbits: gearing up for summer in Santa FeMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      June 5, 2013 | 12:52 am

      Hi, Steve–yes, even there–LOL!

      How does it compare to flying? Or to chicken buses?

      Vs flying…despite the fun, I’ll take the plane and do it in 2 hours next time.
      Vs a chicken bus…Megabus is better.


  5. Maria
    June 5, 2013 | 6:56 pm

    Wow! What a ride. Unfortunately, you find rude people everywhere. Just think that Karma will get them.

    Greyhound and Los Americanos both suck big hairy… with graffiti all over the interior, broken seats, and loose wires (literally) dangling from the ceiling.

    I’ve used Mega Bus in TX and love it. Mega Bus is usually a very sweet and comfy ride
    Maria recently posted..Wordless Wednesday – BangkokMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      June 6, 2013 | 12:53 am

      Karma–ha ha. Yes, maybe they’ll end up sitting near snoring cellphone users!

      I took Greyhound once and it was unpleasant. That was just a 3-hour ride. I can’t imagine being on that all night.

      I must say–Megabus was decent!

  6. Beth
    June 8, 2013 | 9:42 pm

    There are ALWAYS rude cell phone users, grrr!! On a Greyhound bus somewhere in the States, a guy’s throat was slit from talking too loud on his cell :S I’m glad you didn’t react like that! haha :) Good move going downstairs. Bus trips always leave you a story to tell later. Glad you go to NYC safely!
    Beth recently posted..why i travelMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      June 8, 2013 | 11:29 pm

      Hi, Beth. Throat slitting over cellphone chat? Scary. Now I was annoyed, but not quite that angry…

      True re: bus trips resulting in good stories. I’ve got plenty! :)

  7. Sky
    June 8, 2013 | 10:37 pm

    I don’t understand how people can be so rude…I mean, I guess that guy can’t really control his snoring but I really don’t get the cell phone thing…I feel self-conscious being on my phone even when I’m trying to be quiet because who really wants anyone listening in?!

    I’ve never been on a Megabus, yet – though if I had gone to Toronto this year, that’s how I would’ve gotten there.
    Sky recently posted..Sky is (still) a Big Scaredy CatMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      June 8, 2013 | 11:37 pm

      Hi, Sky. True about the snoring. Hard to control. I know that decongestant or nasal strips can help, but they’re no guarantee. But the phone chatting was so wrong. I hear you–I wouldn’t want anyone to listen in. I think she was on the phone for a solid hour, by the way.

      Once I relocated, the Megabus was pretty good. I’d consider taking it again if it were super cheap. Unfortunately, I booked at the last minute and it was expensive.

  8. Charu
    June 17, 2013 | 8:39 pm

    Sounds like you had a blast when you moved downstairs!
    Charu recently posted..In Washington’s Omni Shoreham Hotel, Old-World Glamor with Modern CharmMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      June 18, 2013 | 9:07 am

      He, he, he…I really did. And I got some sleep–fortunately. Phew!

  9. Tom @ Waegook Tom
    July 1, 2013 | 9:05 am

    Megabus. Shudder. The only time I’ve used it and its been good was in Canada. Used it twice in the UK, absolutely awful both times – buses broke down, major delays. In the USA, NYC to DC, THREE BUSES broke down and caused people for departures at 10.30, 11.30, 12 and 12.30 to all be waiting at the same time with pretty much no info. I try to avoid them, but sometimes you have to do what’s best for your bank balance and bite the bullet so to speak.
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..The Tentative TBEX Wrap-Up PostMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      July 1, 2013 | 11:00 pm

      Love your opening sentences in this comment–ha ha! I can’t believe how many times you’ve been on Megabuses that have broken down–what the hell??? That sounds awful–on par with a chicken bus on a crappy road–one so bad that the bus driver must stop in order to fill the holes with stones. :)

      Anyway, I think I got lucky on this trip, huh?
      And if we ever meet up and travel for a few days together, let’s avoid the Megabus, OK? :)

  10. Erica
    July 1, 2013 | 3:20 pm

    This post both instills me with fear and gives me hope as I’m about to take one on the 4th of July to Philly. Please please please, Megabus, don’t break down like you did on Tom. Luckily it’s just a 2 hour ride so I’m HOPING that snoring won’t be a problem!

    • CB Driver
      July 1, 2013 | 11:02 pm

      Erica–I just read Tom’s comment. Unreal. So many breakdowns?? I think he has some sort of weird Megabus karma…

      You’re going to be on one for 2 hours? That’s nothing. It should be fine! I doubt the snoring will be a problem, but rude cell phone chatters probably will be.

      Enjoy! :)

  11. Alison
    July 12, 2013 | 6:23 pm

    Love it! Your stories are so fun to read. I have a bus
    “horror story,” and it’s something I think many bus riders have to deal with. The photos in your story reveal that this bus has seat belts, but too many older charter buses don’t give us the option to “buckle up”!

    So, my horror story is scanning the news to repeatedly hear about bus accidents and resulting fatalities that could have easily been prevented if those passengers were wearing seat belts. Some charters just don’t offer this safety option!

    SafeHarness is a life-saving portable seat belt that easily solves this problem. It slips down over the seat to the cushion and stays in place securely, giving you an instant seat belt wherever you go! The makers need as much help as they can get to bring this product to market and make it available for all U.S. buses!

    If you’d like to help contribute to this amazing cause, navigate to the SafeHarness fundraiser on Indiegogo and read more. They will be taking donations until mid August. Any little bit helps, and donators receive great perks!


  12. shirley
    November 27, 2015 | 6:34 am

    I’ve resigned myself to the fact that the journey will be long, smelly and uncomfortable. Bus as I’ve travelled with neither company, which is likely to be less smelly/uncomfortable? Can any one advise to whether Greyhound or Megabus is more reliable, or has slightly more comfortable seats, or what have you?

  13. Anon
    December 4, 2015 | 1:51 am

    I took a megabus ride to NY, because it was significantly cheaper than flying (but almost 800 for two people). So we opted to give it a try, and use the saved money to stay in a better hotel.
    The ride down was great, because I got the entire back row of 5 seats to lay on. Free wi-fi was good, and the bus was pretty well empty, so we weren’t bothered by other passengers.
    The way back though, was a different story – waiting in line for an hour at Pen station to get on the bus home sucked. The bus was PACKED, crammed, and hot. Sleep was next to impossible, and it was super unpleasant.
    Its a tough call as to whether its worth it or not…but we did save a lot of cash!
    I guess in the end it just depends on your priorities and tolerance of insomnia!

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