A New York Times travel writer was on a Megabus that exploded and live-tweeted the whole thing

Lucas Peterson, a writer for the New York Times travel blog the Frugal Traveller, learned the hard way that “on Megabus, you get what you pay for.”

That was just the first in a series of tweets Peterson wrote as he was evacuated from a Megabus en route to Milwaukee that caught fire shortly after leaving Chicago. 



“Summary: We left Chicago, immediately there seemed to be something wrong bc we stopped on shoulder of highway couple times, driver got out,” Peterson tweeted. “Then driver said we have to turn around and go back to Chicago to switch buses. About five min later tire blows and we pull over on hwy 41. Driver says it’s just a flat tire, that there’s no need to panic, and goes outside. Minutes later smoke starts pouring out of the bus.”

He continued: “Someone on the top deck eventually says: ‘We should get off of this bus.’ So we all get out. People trying to get their luggage. Small fire. Small fire over wheel becomes big; people abandon luggage and get away. Entire thing goes up in flames, series of loud booms.”

Megabus is a low-cost curbside bus company, of the kind written about in a 2011 New York Times report detailing the less-than-satisfactory safety records of budget bus companies:

“The low-cost bus industry, which has revolutionised transportation for students and other budget-conscious travellers, has racked up an alarmingly high number of fatal accidents and safety violations over the last few years,” the Times reported.

Peterson spoke to some of the passengers on the bus as they waited in a grassy field on the side of the highway.

Most of the customers’ luggage had been incinerated in the fire — many lost thousands of dollars worth of possessions. 

“We’re trying to see if everyone got off the bus OK… Most luggage got incinerated,” Peterson tweeted, noting wryly that police officers at the scene told passengers that another Megabus would be sent to pick them up. 


“Passengers are looking up Megabus TOC which limits liability to $250,” Peterson tweeted. “Some very unhappy people.”


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