150 people overcome by heat at Chicago Megabus stop

While waiting at Chicago’s Union Station for a delayed Megabus, 150 people had to be treated for heat exhaustion. The temperature in Chicago was in the mid 90’s yesterday, and because nobody wanted to lose their place in line, passengers stood out in the sun while they waited for the bus.

Of course, it is easy to blame the passengers for being unprepared for the heat, but cooled shelters, or a more streamlined boarding procedure could have easily prevented this.

The Chicago fire department had to come to the rescue of the passengers, and a CTA public transit bus was brought in to help cool them down. After being cooled down, the passengers were able to board the delayed bus, and nobody needed further medical attention.

Megabus to offer 100,000 free tickets

Budget bus travel might not always be the most comfortable or efficient way to travel, but it is often the cheapest. Thanks to low-cost bus service providers like Megabus, which offers routes in the Midwest and on the East Coast, you can often score tickets for just a few bucks. And with amenities like wi-fi and electric outlets, you may actually survive the bus journey with your sanity.

The service offered by Megabus will get even cheaper this winter. How much cheaper? From January 6 to March 20, 2009, over 100,000 seats will be available completely free of charge (well, except for that 50-cent per booking fee).

A limited number of seats will be available on each route per day, so act fast for your best chance at getting a free seat. To book the deal, just use the promotional code GETAWAY.

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.