Confession – I’ve lived in Knoxville for 20+ and never ridden KAT. In fact, the only time I’ve taken the trolley was from a wedding to the reception downtown… and that was a private rental courtesy of the bride’s family.
It’s not that I’m opposed to mass transit, far from it. I was car-free the four+ years I lived in California and got around easily on my beach cruiser, two feet, Amtrak and light rail. And I used to love taking the Chinatown bus from DC to Manhattan while living in our nation’s capital.
So I was psyched to hear that Megabus had expanded service into Knoxville and was offering rides to DC, Nashville, Memphis, Atlanta, Chattanooga and Christiansburg. Per KNS, Megabus launched in 2006, is a subsidiary of Coach USA and bills itself as one of the largest intercity express bus service providers in North America.
In other words, it’s the hipper, cleaner and safer version of Greyhound.
I took the Knoxville to Nashville route – here’s the lowdown…
Megabus leaves from the Knoxville Transit Center (301 E. Church Ave) so you can bus there or park your car at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum garage across the street ($10, 621 Howard Baker Jr. Blvd). They pick up on the Church Avenue side of the Center, and if you have time to kill, check out the café on the lower level (coffee, snacks, etc).
To board, either hand the bus driver your printed confirmation or show him the confirmation number (via mobile device from the reservation email). He/she will write down the number, load any luggage and then you can board. Not the most sophisticated system, but the line moved pretty quickly.
I chose the back of the bus on the second level because the ceiling is one giant sunroof. The bus was about 2/3 full so I had the entire row to myself. My new transit friends included young professionals, families, seniors, a couple of tweens traveling by themselves and none other than the esteemed local blogger/photographer Dan Andrews (great catching up with you Dan!).
The trip took less than three hours (no stops). Megabus dropped us off in downtown Nashville (Commerce and 5th St.) right across from Panera (401 Commerce St.) and a block from the Renaissance Hotel (611 Commerce St.). I walked a block to Broadway to easily catch a cab, but check out the Taxi Magic app to schedule one to come directly to you.
The return trip was equally enjoyable so I’m officially a fan/loyal customer. I felt completely safe the entire time, the driver was friendly and helpful, and the bus was immaculately clean. I’ve already booked another trip to Nashville and an overnight trip to Memphis for a wedding in June. Friends have raved about the overnight bus to DC, so I plan on utilizing it the next time I have to be up there for clients.
For me, Megabus saves time, money (GAS PRICES!!!) and the environment. I usually have to drive to Nashville super early or late in the day to avoid missing client emails, deadlines, etc. So I loved being able to pop open my laptop and keep on working like I was sitting in front of my desk. I encourage everyone to check it out!
A few recommendations…
- Be flexible – there’s only one or two routes per day. My return options were 2:40am (???) or 3:00pm so I ended up working during the day at Panera across the street.
- Arrive 15-20 minutes early – they’ll be there and you can board early.
- Try not to have more than one bag/suitcase.
- Print off your confirmation email/reservation to make it easier on the driver.
- Don’t count on the Wi-Fi. It wasn’t working during my trip, and I’ve heard similar complaints from friends. Be sure to take your wireless modem/laptop card just in case.
Bottom line? Megabus is clean, safe, green, convenient and super cheap.
- Ticket: $9 (round-trip – but rates vary from $1-50)
- Parking in Knoxville: $10
- Taxi to my destination in Nashville: $11 (my brother dropped me off for the return trip)
- Grand total: $30
What does everyone else think? Had a bad experience? What are the other routes like? Leave your comments below or email me at lauraebraden AT gmail DOT com.