Megabus privilege is having the ability to pay extra for your ticket in order to have a nicer seat reserved.
A better definition of Megabus privilege comes from a late twenty to early thirty-something white woman, let’s call her Angry White Woman (get it?), while sitting in one of these reserved seats.
“I paid a lot of money to reserve this seat. A lot more money.”
Angry White Woman said this to one of the Megabus drivers during my trip from Chicago to Omaha this weekend. An old black man was seated somewhere near the back (in general “poorer” seating) but something was leaking on him in that area. He notified one of the drivers (a black mid thirty-something woman) and she helped him look for an available seat. The only seat that was free happened to be the other reserved seat next to Angry White Woman in the very front of the bus by the window.
This is quite the coveted spot. Out of my dozen or so Megabus rides, I have only been so lucky to get a spot in the front once. Passengers in one of these four front seats have more space, don’t have to deal with being crowded around as many people, and get a pretty nice view during the drive.
I guess that’s why Megabus saw an opportunity to make more money with their economically friendly traveling service. Now at checkout, customers can either choose general seating for free or pay extra for a reserved seat – table, balcony, or upper deck. The prices vary depending on the seat, the trip location, and, I assume, how late you purchase the ticket.
This is my beef with Megabus reserved seating.
On all of my trips, the people who I see the most are:
1. College students
2. Single mothers
It makes sense that the most financially pressed would be the number one customers of bus transportation with tickets as low as $1 (I’ve been blessed to score a $5 ticket once).
Everyone who buys a ticket is still guaranteed a seat, yes, but I find it disturbing that the corporation behind this kind of transportation has allowed customers to pay more for better comfort. Even though the single mother of two would especially need and appreciate the extra space of an upper deck seat, if she doesn’t have the extra dollars to dish out – her family can’t sit there. And unless the passengers sitting in these seats have a change of heart and offer it to the woman – her family can’t sit there.
I’m sitting with my earbuds in, surrounded by seven college students, all in their own worlds, when I start to hear someone speaking in the back. It’s a night bus, so the drivers have a strict silence rule so that everyone (but most importantly the co driver) can get some sleep. His voice broke the silence.
“I ain’t gonna have sh*t leaking all over me.”
It was sometime past 2am and we were still somewhere between Chicago and Iowa City.
I turned down the volume on my music to better listen. The other college kids did the same. He was speaking calmly, but with a twinge of attitude that can only come from your grandpa or great uncle who won’t put up with that mess – whatever that mess happens to be. He couldn’t sit in that spot, he needed a different seat, he can’t find one on his own.
The Megabus driver walked from the back to the front, to find that the only available seat was the other all blue-leather seat next to Angry White Woman.
Angry White Woman had heard him speaking too, and she already started her protest before the driver could explain what the situation was.
“Ma’am, did you reserve both seats?”
“Well, no, but I paid a lot of money to reserve this seat.”
“So no one else is sitting here?”
“No one should be able to just sit here without reserving the seat. I paid a lot of money to reserve this seat.”
She repeated herself at least ten more times before the driver gave up on patient civility.
“Take your seat.”
Old Black Man didn’t hesitate in the slightest, setting his bag on the floor, kicking his feet up on the ledge in front of the window, pulling his fedora over his face, and throwing his arms behind his head.
Angry White Woman began to not-so-subtly shift her person and belongings as far from his as possible.
“The privilege on this bus right now.”
*One of the college students shook her head. The rest of us laughed quietly.
*When we hit Iowa City and the lights came on I saw her white dreads. You can’t expect white people to be 100% unproblematic.
Angry White Woman then took out her phone and I didn’t even need to see the text to know that she was already telling her tale of tragedy, woe, and misfortune all because of the poor black man she now had to sit next to.
I was cracking up laughing in my head at first. This is exactly what I saw coming when I saw the new option on Megabus’s website last Monday. Still, this hurt to see. This was one of those moments where I wanted to be proved wrong.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Megabus starts to offer more reserved seating, or just switches to all reserved, with each spot being ranked and the best priced higher. A default seating fee all around.
The eight hour drive from Chicago to Omaha is not convenient in the least, but the possible $25-$50 ticket definitely is, but if the prices continue to shoot up, I have no cheaper alternatives. It looks like I, and those other seven college students, will be going around the family circle for money.
Megabus reserved seating? Or Megabus gentrification?
Maybe that’s too dramatic, but I do know one thing – Megabus Privilege is happening now.