Travel Reporter Live-Blogs Bus Fire

New York Times Frugal Traveler gets more than he bargained for

A New York Times travel writer has finally reached the end of his most recent trip, but only after boarding two¬†different buses — one of which burst into flames.

Within an hour of boarding a Milwaukee-bound Megabus in Chicago on Sunday, the wheels started to come off Lucas Peterson’s trip — first metaphorically, then literally. After the bus’ driver pulled over to the side of the highway multiple times, the contributor to the Times’ Frugal Traveler blog and his fellow passengers were on their way back to Chicago in order to switch buses. Then, a tire blew out.

Peterson groused on Twitter, “Currently learning that on @megabus, you get what you pay for.” He wasn’t nearly done paying.

Thirteen minutes later, his very next tweet was “Update: the bus is on fire,” accompanied an illustrative photo. That tweet was followed five minutes later by “Update: the bus exploded.”

megabus bus fire

Smoke initially began pouring out of the bus, but the driver made no attempt to evacuate its passengers until one rider suggested disembarking. The bus became subsumed by flames shortly thereafter, accompanied by a series of explosions.

“Small fire over wheel becomes big,” Peterson tweeted. “People abandon luggage and get away. Entire thing goes up in flames, series of loud booms.”

Peterson noted that all riders got out safely, though most of their luggage was destroyed. That’s when he went into reporter mode, chronicling the stories of his fellow passengers in 140 characters or less.

megabus bus fireRider Darnell McKinney was moving from St. Louis to Milwaukee and lost “most of his possessions,” including his social security and credit cards, and his birth certificate.

Peterson reported that passengers then began consulting the terms and conditions on their tickets to determine the company’s liability, yielding¬†“some very unhappy people.” Turns out, Megabus is only on the hook for a maximum of $250 for the loss of personal belongings.

“The kicker,” Peterson tweeted once the smoke cleared: “officer says ‘they’re sending another Megabus to pick you guys up.'”

Read Peterson’s tweets below: