Lucas Peterson, a reporter for The New York Times' Frugal Traveler column, was traveling from Chicago to Milwaukee on Sunday, February 21. It was his first Megabus trip and also his first time evacuating a bus, as he described in the New York Times Monday morning.
You see, shortly into Peterson's journey his bus encountered some difficulties. (If you've ever traveled on a Megabus, you know the struggle is real.)
"A groan of incredulity swept through the bus," Peterson wrote. "Why would we turn around, people asked, when we were so close to Milwaukee? (It’s about a 90-mile trip.) We turned off the interstate and began heading back toward Chicago down a smaller highway. Within minutes, there was a loud bang from the back of the bus. People leapt up from their seats. Some were cursing, some got on their phones. ... One passenger, Kenny Wagner, said nothing like this had happened in the dozens of times he’d taken Megabus. The bus began to smoke, and as it got thicker, we evacuated."
Things quickly escalated from mildly annoying/inconvenient to holy-shit-we-could've-died when the bus caught fire and subsequently exploded. Peterson documented the whole fiasco on Twitter.
All passengers made it out safe and sound, but most of the luggage didn't. People lost thousands of dollars in possessions, including laptops. One dude even lost his birth certificate and social security card. Poor guy.
Megabus's terms and conditions state: "Our maximum liability to you for any loss or damage to your luggage is US$250 per passenger for any such loss or damage to luggage, and megabus.com will only be responsible to reimburse passengers up to the maximum liability limit in the event of negligence on the part of megabus.com."
In other words, $250 is the maximum amount of reimbursement. Ugh.
The passengers then boarded a second Megabus (Ugh! Ugh!) to complete their journey. We're guessing they'll probably choose Bolt Bus from here on out.
"I had chosen Megabus for the same reason most choose it: the price," Peterson wrote. "While I didn’t snag a $1 fare, I paid $11, plus a booking fee, for a ticket from Chicago to Milwaukee. An Amtrak ticket would have cost $25: not a bad savings. Unfortunately, though, low prices sometimes come with other costs."
For more information, read Peterson's full firsthand account at the New York Times.