A Budget Bus Rider’s Worst Fears

Megabus in Chicago
compujeramey, via Flickr

There’s a moment when every frequent budget bus rider tells him or herself, “you get what you pay for.” This morning that thought was likely running through riders’ minds when a MegaBus hit an overpass at New York’s Port Authority Bus Terminal. The double-decker bus was too tall for the entrance clearance, causing the bus to get wedged into the space. Two people suffered minor injuries, and the driver got a ticket and is being investigated.

Budget bus companies like MegaBus ply the Northeast Corridor and other parts of the country, offering rates as low as $1 (if you get lucky and book really far in advance) between cities like New York, Boston, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. The more usual one-way fares of $25-$30 are a steal when compared to Amtrak‘s prices for the same routes, and if all goes smoothly many of the bus trips take about the same amount of time as the train.

That’s if all goes smoothly.While no means of transportation is incident-free, some of the things budget bus travelers have to contend with include:

  • Buses that show up late
  • Buses that show up hours late
  • Buses that break down
  • Buses that are overbooked
  • Buses with no working bathroom/air conditioning/lights/outlets/Wi-Fi
  • Buses whose drivers get lost
  • Buses whose drivers need to pull over on the side of the road for a smoke
  • Buses whose drivers flag down another driver on the road to switch buses
  • Passengers who eat smelly food/get really drunk/sleep on their seat mates/talk loudly on the phone/pass out in awkward places on the bus
  • Buses that catch on fire
  • Buses that get in accidents
  • Buses that hit pedestrians (though that particular line is currently not in service)
  • And of course, traffic

Have a bus horror story to share? Post it in the comments.

Google Makes Travel Easier For Lazy People

Google Takes on Hawaii's Hiking Trails
Google’s ongoing world digitization is opening up some very cool travel experiences to people sitting in front of their laptops and tablets. Now, rather than spending thousands of dollars, lots of vacation time and a decent amount of physical exertion to see these places, you can arrive by a click and multi-task your exploring as you commute to work, procrastinate a project or tune out in a meeting.
Last fall Google Maps debuted a “street view” of the Great Barrier Reef and other coral reefs, allowing armchair travelers with no diving or even swimming ability to take a peek at the world’s greatest underwater treasures.

More recently the site teamed up with the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau to feature Hawaiian hiking trails on Google Street View. Hiking guides on the Big Island will carry Google’s cameras on roughly 20 of the Islands’ best trails, stitching together a 360-degree experience that people can enjoy anywhere.

Another recent addition to Street View will please Harry Potter fans who can’t make the trip across the pond to London’s Warner Bros. Studio Tour. Muggles can now tour Diagon Alley and the wizarding shops it houses through Street View.

Google Maps isn’t the only thing bringing travel experiences to the masses. Though still in its infancy, Google Glass is expected to change the way people document and share their travel experiences. This year a Running of the Bulls competition invited two Google Glass users to Pamplona to view the annual San Fermin festival events. While the Glassers aren’t expected to actually run with the bulls (too bad, that’s something we wouldn’t mind having Google do for us!), they’ll be watching the bull run from a balcony and sharing the experience via a daily webcast.

It’s doubtful that Google’s online presentations will actually keep people from wanting to experience these places in real life, but we’re intrigued about what other experiences will become available to interactive travelers. Climbing Mount Everest? Surfing Jaws? Space travel?

Where do you want your maps app to take you next?

Developing Story: Airline Crash in San Francisco


A plane reportedly crashed upon landing at San Francisco International Airport today. CNN reports the plane was a Boeing 777 operated by Asiana Airlines.

A YouTube video showed the smoking plane at the crash site.

This has been a busy week for airline collision news, with a close-call near-collision above Michigan and a call for air traffic control changes after a number of near collisions in recent months.

Passengers on the plane tweeted about the crash:

Update: 3:59 PM EST

Initial reports from passengers indicate most people on board did not suffer major injuries.

Update 4:07 PM EST

Local news outlet KTVU is reporting that all flights into SFO are cancelled and roads around the airport have been shut down.

Update 4:11 PM EST

Passengers from Asiana flight 214 are being taken to local hospitals. The flight as en route to San Francisco from Seoul. Initial reports from passengers claim that the nearly 300 people on board the plane are accounted for. David Eun, a Samsung executive, was on the plane and posted updates via Twitter. Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer was scheduled to be on the flight but switched to a United flight to use miles:

Update: 4:34 PM EST

Local news outlet KTVU now reports at least two people were killed in today’s plane crash.

Photos and video of the plane show a large, charred hole in the top of the cabin, and the tail is detached from the body of the plane. Details are still coming in about the crash, while some people speculated its cause on Twitter:

Others reacted to landing at SFO in general:

Update: 5:11 PM EST

Read a transcript or listen to the audio of the communication between the plane and air traffic control when the incident occurred here.

Update: 7:20 PM EST

San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hays-White: “The scene is now secure.”

Hays-White reports 291 passengers and 16 crew on board the plane. There were 48 initial transports from the scene to area hospitals, with additional passengers waiting to be transferred to hospitals. There were two confirmed fatalities. Some passengers are unaccounted for.

Two of SFO’s four runways are back in operation.

The FBI says the crash does not appear to be caused by terrorism.