Megabus offers trips to Chicago for $1

Students said the ride is cheap but takes a lot of time on the new Megabus system.

In the past some students looking to visit the Chicago area preferred to avoid the headaches of taking a bus.

“It’s too much of a hassle and too much work to take the bus, plus the station is far away,” said journalism junior and Chicago native Erice Smith.

But with a new bus service offering University students the opportunity to visit Chicago for $1 each way on certain dates, some might change their minds.

Launched April 10 in Minneapolis, Megabus provides riders daily service with three nonstop trips to Chicago. The buses pick up and drop off riders at the University Avenue Ramp.

Reservations for Megabus can be made on its Web site, megabus.com/us, where riders will find fares that correspond with departure dates as many as 45 days in advance.

The fares are based on an early-booking concept similar to an airline’s, said Dale Moser, president and chief executive of Megabus’ parent company, Coach USA.

“We have so many seats available at $1, $2, $3 Ö it’s all a first-come, first-serve guarantee,” he said. “But even our highest fare for last-minute buyers is still more economical than driving a car, taking a train, plane or another bus line.”

Moser said the idea came from a successful bus service that started three years ago in the United Kingdom and was modified to fit U.S. travel.

Joe Barnes, a business and marketing junior on the Duluth campus, said the fares intrigued him.

“I’d like to visit some of my friends in Chicago, but I can’t trust my car to go to the grocery store, let alone Chicago,” he said. “I’d do a bus ride for a dollar.”

Other bus lines such as Schoolrider and Gofer Bus offer student discounts for weekend or holiday service across Wisconsin ranging from about $60 to $120.

Jefferson Bus Lines, owned by Greyhound, also will share the campus market with Megabus. With an office in Coffman Union, Jefferson provides daily departures going across the Midwest for $17 and more for one way.

Greyhound and Jefferson sales representative Trevor Ban Schybel said the new competition will not be a problem and other companies haven’t affected sales in the past.

“Competition is not a big deal because sales around here are so good,” he said. “It’s convenient because we’re located in the Union.”

Moser said the similar bus services in the area don’t worry him either.

“What we are doing is cutting edge in the bus industry,” he said. “Our competition is trying to get people out of automobiles for $3 a gallon.”

Despite the increasing gas prices, some students still prefer to do their own driving rather than sitting through the added hours of a bus ride.

“It’s too long on a bus; I can get home in six hours (in a car) instead of eight,” Smith said. “The set times are too much of a hassle.”

Freelance Editor Emily Kaiser welcomes comments at [email protected].