Instead of flying down from SF to LA for the holiday season, I took a bus from CAShuttleBus instead. I wasn’t in a rush to get home and I thought it would be a fun experience. It was, and I’m planning on taking it back up to SF.
The Good Parts
- It’s cheaper, but not by a lot. The bus ride cost me $50 ($45 ticket + $5 tip for the driver) whereas a Wanna Get Away ticket from Southwest would have cost me around $85.
- It’s easier to start conversations with the people around you because the people who take these buses are usually travelers/students/social types and it also gets very boring sitting on a bus for 8 hours.
- More leg room. Since you’re not cramped 6 to a row like you would be on a plane, there’s adequate room to sit comfortably. Bigger folk would appreciate this.
- No weight limit on bags. You’re allowed 2 large bags to stow on the bus, and have to pay $5 for each bag that’s over 35 pounds. What actually happens is that the driver will try lifting your bag and tells you to give him $5 if he feels like it’s sufficiently heavy. This means that if you have 2 bags both weighing over 50 pounds (the upper limit for airlines), it’ll be cheaper for you to just take them on a bus and pay $10 extra.
- Good scenery. For most of a plane ride, you’ll look outside and see clouds. On a bus, there’s always something to look at even though that something is sometimes endless rows of crops for 15 minutes.
The Bad Parts
- The ride is 8 hours long. We took a 30 minute break at a Burger King in the middle, and I ate a fish sandwich that was not very good.
- No security. I would personally put this in the good parts list because I’m generally trusting of people and think airport security has gotten absolutely ridiculous, but some people may be afraid of the fact that they’ll be surrounded by dozens of strangers, any of whom could be a machete wielding mass murderer. During my ride I was concerned by someone making random moaning/yelling sounds, but it turned out to be a mentally challenged guy who was accompanied by his mom, not anyone dangerous.
- The CAShuttleBus website advertises free WiFi. There is no free WiFi. The cake is a lie.
- Bring food with you and eat before boarding. Bringing extra food with you could be a good way to make friends. Alas, I ate nothing before the bus ride and didn’t bring any food and suffered greatly. There were two guys who brought Chipotle burritos with them, and I contemplated murdering them for great profit.
- Bring a book or a computer or some other means of entertaining yourself.
- Talk to people around you. I got to meet three foreign exchange students from Japan and Germany who were traveling around California and a gorgeous Swedish girl who studies web design in SF. Take advantage of the fact that people are bored and make some friends.