Windshield Wiper Malfunction Causes 3+ Hour Delay on Megabus
W hile the bus sat at the truck stop just off Exit 84 of Interstate 81 somewhere east of Fort Chiswell, Virginia at approximately 2:20 in the morning, I overheard the bus driver downstairs on the bus contemplating placing a service call for a mechanic because the windshield wipers were no longer operable, as they created a strange grinding noise every time they were switched on.
The light rain had stopped some time ago; but I suppose she was concerned about there being additional rain along the route; or perhaps the windshield of the bus getting sprayed with water from a passing vehicle — such as a tractor trailer with 18 wheels, for example. I can understand that — safety first for the passengers.
With the rain having stopped for some time after staying at the truck stop for at least 20 minutes — it was not a scheduled stop — the bus driver decided to continue on with the journey; and it was a good decision, as the highway was dry.
Our next stop was to pick up and drop off passengers in Christiansburg, which is 30 miles east of the truck stop. Other than the scheduled facilities stops, Knoxville and Christiansburg were the official stops to pick up and drop off passengers on the way to Washington, D.C. from Atlanta. Thankfully, the stop was quick…
…but then, the Megabus turned off of the highway at an exit four miles east and entered the parking lot of a Quality Inn hotel property. By now, the time was approaching 3:00 in the morning; and none of the passengers knew why we stopped yet again — until we got the announcement that it will be 45 minutes to an hour until the mechanic shows up to look at why the mechanism which operates the windshield wipers failed.
Of course, I have no idea of what were the details — but why couldn’t the mechanic meet with the bus at a location where neither needed to wait? Why idle a bus outside of the rooms of guests trying to sleep during the night? Why could the call for the mechanic not be canceled or postponed until after the trip to Washington, D.C. was completed — especially as there had been no precipitation for a while?
I used this time to go back to sleep with my head against the side window. The bus was still — unlike on the highways of Virginia, which seemed a little bumpier than those of Tennessee and Georgia — so I can lean my head.
Greater than two hours later — without the problem having been fixed — the bus was finally on its way again. I fell asleep on and off — and I awoke near Mint Spring, which is west of Charlottesville. The sun greeted us through the clouds as it was rising after 6:30 in the morning.
I have always had a fascination with highways, road signs, license plates, street lights — and a yearning for the open road. Even on a bus, there is just this sense of freedom when traveling out on that open road.
It was the perfect time to play Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver. Twice. Yes, I admit it. I like the song. I actually have it on my playlist — don’t laugh.
Despite him singing about West Virginia and not western Virginia — which Interstate 81 hugs, along with the spine of the Appalachian Mountains — and despite that it was Clopper Road in Gaithersburg, Maryland which was the supposed inspiration of the song, the mood just felt perfect. In fact, I am listening to the song as I write this article; and I am not far from Clopper Road.
The photographs do not do justice to the sunrise through the clouds — especially from a moving bus at low light. I will say that I was reminded at just how beautiful is America. You just cannot get this kind of scenery and feeling of wanderlust from an airplane. To me, this is part of what life is all about.
The temperature on the bus was actually quite comfortable; but since the bus stopped for that mechanic, it had been significantly colder aboard that bus — and the temperature cannot be adjusted by anyone, so we were told.
We stopped at yet another truck stop off of Interstate 81…
…and we were finally on our way once again.
Not long after the above photograph was taken — and only 15 minutes after the leaving the truck stop — the bus pulled into a rest area for trucks in order to switch drivers; and they sure took their sweet time. The passengers — who had been really patient up until this point — now were starting to express their anger. This could not be done 15 minutes away at the truck stop to save some time?!?
The new bus driver did not help matters much when he announced that he had free breakfast for everybody; and that everyone should come up to the front of the bus to get it. He then said he was just kidding.
In fact, he had a pretty acerbic wit and sarcastic yet snarky attitude about him. When he said that he was driving slower due to the wind, he cautioned “Don’t kill the messenger.”
We then reached heavy traffic on Interstate 66, which was at a standstill…
The bus driver announced that passengers should be receiving a refund for this trip; and that they should call customer service. I intend to write about the customer service of Megabus in a future article — but I digress. One passenger near me actually did that and received nothing but frustration when he tried to be booked on the next bus, as he missed his connection to New York due to our bus being significantly late. Only after he had been on the telephone arguing with customer service did I suggest to him to hang up and try again. He finally was told that he was already “protected” on the next bus; and that he would automatically get a refund for this bus trip.
Just after crossing the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge, a wrong turn by the bus driver led to him backing up the bus into traffic. Do not be fooled by the photograph below where he committed this idiotic act — there was plenty of traffic behind us. I suppose he had no idea on how to get to Union Station.
“What are you doing?!?” and “Hey — watch out!” were some of the outcries of passengers as the bus driver stopped the bus; backed it up as vehicles passed on both sides of the bus with their horns blaring; and proceeded down Constitution Avenue.
We finally made it to Union Station — it almost felt like the bus limped into it — almost 3.5 hours late due to a malfunctioning windshield wiper, which led to the extra stops, which led to the bus reaching heavy traffic which was at a standstill. It simply felt like a domino effect which led to unnecessary frustration and anger by many of the passengers…
…and that is a real shame. This could have been such a pleasant experience…
All photographs ©2015 by Brian Cohen.