Megabus to restart service in Iowa
The low-cost bus line Megabus is restarting service in Iowa.
The company said Tuesday that beginning March 1 service will resume with daily stops in Lincoln, Neb., Omaha, Des Moines, Coralville, Moline, Ill., and Chicago. Additional service will be added as needed on weekends and holidays.
Competition from cheap gasoline prompted Megabus to drop its Chicago-to-Omaha bus in January. The route included stops in Davenport, Coraville and Des Moines.
The New Jersey-based Megabus teamed up with Windstar Lines to bring the service back to Iowa. The company will use Windstar buses, which are equipped with WiFi and power outlets. Megabus will handle ticket sales.
The company is offering 500 seats for $1 in the first week of service.
Go to megabus.com to book tickets.
Written last night (before safely arriving, an hour late in Des Moines):
There may be a thief among us, here on the Megabus bumping along Interstate 80 in rural Iowa on a dark December night, but you have to wonder why someone on this bus would leave his diamond ring and watch in his coat pocket and then leave said coat unattended during a rest stop near Peru, Illinois. As the theft, or whatever it is was, was duly reported, my fellow passengers looked aghast. Now we had to wait for the police and a possible search of the bus and us (or so one rumor went) and our 7 hour bus ride (from Chicago to DSM, which should normally take 6 hours tops) suddenly threatened to get a lot longer.
Fortunately the police arrived fairly quickly (who knew police drive White Ford 150 pickups?), talked briefly to the alleged victim and the driver and we were on the road again after a 1/2 hour delay. It was a reminder of the downside of taking the megabus (along with yakking passengers and the overpowering smell, in close quarters, of McDonald’s cheeseburgers) but there are upsides too — including the affordability ($41 for this ride) and easy on-and-off – and so I am sad to see megabus service between Chicago and Omaha end, which it reportedly will as of early January.
UPDATE ON THE UPDATE: There’s now some question about whether there was a fatality in the Megabus crash, according to the most recent reports. The bus was apparently headed to St. Louis and then Kansas City. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Sad and disturbing news that at least one person has been killed and many injured in a Megabus crash today on I-55 in Illinois. I held my breathe as the radio announcer reported the destination city of the bus that left Chicago: Kansas City. (Not Des Moines, where I live.)
AS I WROTE earlier today: (which now seems a trivial matter indeed…)
My son took the Megabus last Friday afternoon from Washington D.C. to NYC and all went well EXCEPT that the ride took longer than expected (over 5 hours) due to traffic AND he’d forgotten to bring any food along, which was a problem because the bus didn’t make a stop for passengers to catch a quick bite. (This stop happens sometimes but not always on the Megabus route between Des Moines and Chicago, which I’ve ridden many times.) Fortunately he did bring water – but when the bus finally arrived in Manhattan at 11 p.m., my son was really hungry.
My son is a veteran Megabus rider (as am I) between Chicago and Des Moines. Next weekend, he’s taking it from D.C. to New York City – and just in time, there’s a new Free MegaBus USA app for your smartphone that can tell you where the heck your bus is. This strikes me as a fantastic idea (the buses have a tendency to run late, alas) — even though I’m the last person in America who doesn’t have a smart phone. Wonder if it works with an IPAD? It will apparently show you the real-time location of your bus if you’re riding on a Midwest, Southeast or Northeast route.
Find more info at: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/1389f915a51118fb
The recent news that New York City taxi cabs will increase their fares by an average of 17 percent starting in September has me thinking even more seriously about using whatever public transportation I can find – particularly from the airports. I’ve already figured out how to take the train and subway from Newark – piece of cake. I’ve also spotted the M60 bus on the way upper west side (106th and Broadway) that goes to LaGuardia (see details below) but I’m not clear on where to find it when I arrive at the airport – but I plan to figure it out. Even before the fare hike, cabs from LaGuardia were approaching $35-40 – which is particularly high during family gatherings when various members of my family arrive in the city at various times. Beyond airport travel, I rarely take cabs otherwise in the city – the subway or bus is fine. The only exception during my last trip was when I used a cab to escape a torrential downpour in Manhattan (waiting for the bus was NOT working well.)
M60 bus from Manhattan and Astoria
With the M60 bus, you can travel to all terminals at LaGuardia from the West Side, the East Side or Astoria (Queens). The M60 runs between 106 St and Broadway in Manhattan and LaGuardia Airport from approximately 5 am to 1 am, seven days a week. The M60 serves all airport terminals. Connections can be made with all north-south Manhattan subway lines or with the N and Qtrains at the Astoria Blvd station.
If you pay your fare with MetroCard, you can transfer free between the subway and the M60 bus. The M60 also makes convenient connections with MTA Metro-North Railroad at the 125 St station. Travel time between Broadway and 116 St and the Delta Terminal is approximately 40 minutes.
Here are some tips on taking the Megabus from Chicago to Des Moines (and back.) that I offered my sister, who is traveling here next week:
- For the 5 p.m. bus out of Chicago, bring something to eat for dinner (you’ll stop once in Iowa City – where nearest cafe is closed by late eve (sometimes the driver makes another stop near Iowa City on I-80 so people can get McDonald’s or convenience store/gas station food.) On Wed morn, you might want to pick up a sandwich to take on your midday bus ride home, although the Iowa City cafe near the bus stop should be open mid-afternoon
- Also bring a bottle of water – one time I didn’t and I was dying of thirst. I practically begged a woman who later boarded in Iowa City, carrying a six-pack of bottled water (and she kindly gave me one.)
- Bring a sweater (this is more relevant in the summer, when the bus can be chilly from air-conditioning)
- WiFi may or may not work. Or it may work some of the time. Don’t count on it.
- Bathroom on board has been fine, in my limited experience.
- Sit closer to front of bus near driver and in bottom of doubledecker (if you have a doubledecker)
- The bus is often filled leaving Chicago but emptier after Iowa City drop off (although some students do get on in Iowa City…)
- Boarding the bus in downtown Chicago can be a bit chaotic, with clumps of people waiting on the street for buses going to a variety of places. If it’s cold, have whomever is driving you stick around a bit so you can wait in the warm comfort of a car (because there’s no warm indoor place to wait for the bus, last I saw). The stop is one block south of Union Station on east side of street. Not hard to find. Probably best to get there about 10 minutes early. (Unless you’re dad – then maybe 1/2 hour.)
- Luggage – There is limited space to store it by your seat but I’ve always given mine to the driver to put in the boot (or whatever it’s called) and haven’t had any problems. Might slow you down a bit.
- Bus stop in Des Moines is mellow. It’s right downtown by the DM Civic Center.
Exactly a week after my son took the Megabus from Chicago to Iowa City comes news that a driver on that route was arrested for drunken driving. Scary. Especially since my college-age kids – and lots of other people’s kids and people in general – increasingly use the Megabus for transportation in the Midwest and beyond. I’ve ridden the bus several times too – and sometimes wondered about the drivers, who they are, what kind of training they have, if they are good drivers.
I”m curious to know HOW the arrest transpired – Did a passenger call 911? Or did the police see the bus driving erratically? I’d also like to know how Megabus picks its drivers and what it will do in the future to avoid something like this? As the company grows bigger, one has to wonder if it can keep its act together (Delays were the problem last time I rode the Megabus.)
An argument could be made that this doesn’t just happen with buses – airline pilots have been arrested for being drunk. (Don’t even get me started with truck drives.) But at least with airlines there are other staff on board to keep an eye on things. The Megabus drivers are very much on their own, with no oversight from anyone other than passengers. Which I guess fuels the argument that if passengers suspect something is amiss, they must take the initiative, report it, and get the police to stop the bus!