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This month, Megabus began bus service to the public 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, so 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 station in downtown Tampa to begin our journey. Megabus, the “private” part of a “private-public” partnership, has an agreement to use the Marion Transit Center station for its Tampa connector. Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority provides local public transportation around the region, where Megabus provides private transportation to a larger travel area.
We noticed that there are fifteen parking spaces, available free of charge, reserved for Megabus passengers at the Marion Transit Center station. The Transit Authority does not provide security for vehicles left overnight.
Our plan was to arrive in Orlando at 3:00 p.m. and enjoy a late lunch until our scheduled departure at 4:30 p.m.
As 1:30 p.m. came and went, and we stood 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 p.m. and so we boarded for our trip to Orlando.
We arrived in Orlando at 4:30 p.m., which was the time we were supposed to be heading home. We got off one bus and got on another. Then, after about a half hour, we took off to Tampa; arriving back at the Marion Transit Center station close to 7:00 p.m.
We did not get to eat lunch in Orlando like we planned. If it hadn’t been for my Ritz peanut butter crackers, and a couple of bags of honey roasted peanuts, we might have succumbed to starvation.
The drop off site in Orlando was about four or five blocks from the 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 keep whoever you may be meeting updated in the event of any delays.
I am just glad that this was a “joy ride” and I did not have a pressing appointment, or need 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.
Traveler advice: Don’t forget to bring a snack!
Tags: HART, Lynx, Megabus, public transportation
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