By Howard M. Romaine
Nashville, TN – The brightly colored two decker Megabus pulled up on Commerce between 4th and 5th across from Suntrust downtown, and Panera Bread’s downtown location, and around the corner from the historic Opry House just on time last week, with a 20 – 40 person gathering of youth with headbands, nose rings and guitar cases, and a few of us over 50 folk, more modestly attired. In truth, the mass seemed to be college students with their over-sized back packs, and jangling electronic gear, pads, laptops, and cell phones.
The big back door was jerked open by the short tank built male driver who began immediately looking at the printed out ”tickets” or numbers for reservations, and tossing the larger bags, and carry ons into the space ahead of the stairs leading up to the second deck. Next to me toward the back of the line was a large lady who weighed 300 pounds all dressed in loud pink with an equally large pull on bag, which the driver, after a brief glance at her and the bag, hoisted into the space. As I had made my reservations quickly with no access to print out the paper, I had carefully written the numbers in my day book, but felt anguish compared to the African-American ladies my age who had ridden up from Chattanooga, spent the night in a hotel, visited Opryland, and a couple other attractions, and were well and carefully equipped with printed out paperwork showing their time of departure, arrival and cost – less than $10 if my memory is correct. My own charge for the trip to Atlanta was $12, on a reservation made just days before.
There was no problem with my notes, (ticket), and my small pull bag, enough to fit under a seat, came onboard with me. I climbed up the easy stairs to the upper deck, and found a seat near the front. Although the seats seemed smaller than I expected, and there was no overhead storage space like the trusty Greyhound I’d ridden to and from Atlanta for years, the spaces were clean, the windows large, the overhead light useable for reading, and one could shift the seat back enough for comfortable snoozing during the 4:30 PM to 10:20 ride to Atlanta.
The ride to Chattanooga was easy, the rider slept a bit, and awoke to hear the driver announce the place, and that this was not a “break stop.”
“If you need to use the restroom, please use the one on the bus,” was the announcement, which brought me to the next exploration of the trip, after we unloaded passengers, and loaded a few more.
As I napped, the air vents above blew cool – too cool for comfort for me. I tried to adjust them, pushing the louvers to have the air blow to the side, but it still seemed too much. I couldn’t completely cut it off, so I was glad for the lined rain coat I had brought, which I just put over my head.
On the road, just down the large easy steps well hand-railed was the bathroom. It was larger, more manageable than the usual on either buses or planes, and, surprisingly, amazingly clean. After a quick hand wash I walked on back up to the scenic deck, and my seat, which, given the dark, did not allow me much of a scenic view, until, out of nowhere, suddenly appeared the soaring downtown skyscrapers of Atlanta.
The arrival place for the Nashville-Atlanta bus is the Civic Center Marta Stop, at which my sister picked me up, and took me to her place in Decatur. Had I gone to another friend’s place, it would have been easy to get there on METROPOLITAN ATLANTA RAPID TRANSIT, (MARTA) ,or take the same to the Airport, for a flight. On the return, the bus would leave from the same place, but, to be sure it’s easy to get confused with the large number of MARTA stops, which will provide an interesting story for my return ride back.