How much do U students actually pay for the Megabus?

The Megabus is a cheaper option than Greyhound or filling up a tank of gas.

by Andy Mannix

As gas prices in Minneapolis remain high, many students are seeking alternative transportation for traveling on a budget.

So when a bus started advertising trips from Minneapolis to Chicago for as little as $1, perhaps it isn’t surprising that it quickly became popular.

The Megabus, a subsidiary of Coach USA, branched off to America from its Scottish homeland in 2006. Since then, it has transported more than 650,000 passengers and generated more than $1 million in revenue, Dale Moser, president of Coach USA, said.

With low cost, easy Internet ticket ordering and minimal stops between locations, the Megabus offers make it unique from other bus lines – and especially attractive to students, Moser said.

Last summer, when theater arts senior Kati Cowardin was going to Chicago to see the musical “Wicked,” she decided to try out the Megabus.

“We had heard it was fairly cheap and a good deal, and thought that it might be better to do than to have the stress of driving,” she said. “And since gas prices were so high, we figured when all was said and done, it would be less money.”

Booking the ticket several months in advance, Cowardin ended up paying barely more than the cost of one gallon of gas for a round trip, she said.

Graduate student Chris Ye chose to take the Megabus to Chicago earlier this fall.

Ye said one of the primary reasons she was drawn to the Megabus was the price.

Booking her trip about one week in advance, she paid $45 for a round-trip ticket, she said.

By not using bus terminals or stations and instead relying on bus stops in high-traffic areas, Moser said Megabus is able to save on facilities and employee costs and, in turn, charge cheaper rates.

However, some students said they would prefer a terminal.

Heidi Weitzer, a strategic communications junior, rode the Megabus from her hometown, Milwaukee, to Minneapolis last summer, she said.

When the bus ran about 45 minutes late, Weitzer found herself uncomfortable while waiting in downtown Milwaukee.

“Unlike a Greyhound station where they have an actual building, this was just, like, a sign that had ‘Megabus’ on it,” Weitzer said. “And you just kind of hoped that the bus will show up, so I was a little worried.”

Weitzer also said the sizeable “from $1” graphic on the side of the Megabuses is slightly misleading because it seems to imply that $1 seats are the norm.

Moser said each Megabus provides between four and eight seats for $1.

The average price for a one-way ticket from Minneapolis to Chicago on the Megabus is approximately $20 to $25, starting at $1 and topping out around $40, Moser said.

“The earlier you book, the better probability you have of getting a seat priced at $1,” Moser said. “After the $1 seats are purchased, then it incrementally increases.”

Despite her complaints with her first experience, Weitzer said the Megabus proved to be the considerably cheapest option.

She paid $19 for a one-way ticket from Milwaukee.

As a result, when Weitzer was planning a November trip to Chicago, she chose the Megabus.

“The Greyhound is, like, at least $50 for a one-way for Milwaukee to Minneapolis. It usually takes me a hundred bucks to get home,” she said. “So I don’t care if it’s in a sketchy location, I’m still gonna ride it.”