Pittsburgh to Chicago for $1

High gas prices and expensive airfare keeping you stuck at home this spring? Does even Greyhound seem too pricey for those non-essential trips?

It looks like you’ll soon be able to explore parts of the U.S. for next to nothing, thanks to Megabus.com, a Chicago-based bus company that is “trying to get people out of their car.” Using a UK business model that cuts costs by using online ticketing and sidewalk stops instead of ticket counters and bus terminals, the company will providing cheap transit from Pittsburgh, Ann Arbor, Columbus, Kansas City, and Louisville — this is in addition to the service they already provide from Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Minneapolis and other Midwestern cities.

And yes, they really do have $1 fares, but to get them, you have to book in advance. A limited number of seats go super-cheap, and the price goes up based on how close your purchase date is to your departure date.

But according to Dale Moser, president and chief operating officer of Coach USA, the company that runs Megabus, “the highest-price seat is still cheaper than all the alternatives to get from Pittsburgh to Chicago.”

Especially given the spike in bus travel post-Sept. 11, there are a few regional bus carriers offering low-priced alternatives to Greyhound. Before you plan your next trip, shop around, and make sure you’re getting the cheapest fare.