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In Wake Of Bus Explosion, Megabus Says It Is Extremely Safe, Don't Worry

By Mae Rice in News on Feb 23, 2016 6:51PM

One of Megabus' coach buses—this one fortunately not on fire (photo via Facebook)

A Megabus burst into flames on Sunday en route from Chicago to Minneapolis—and there happened to be a New York Times travel columnist on board. In the days since, the company’s spokesperson has addressed the issue, and the columnist, who live-tweeted the bus fire, has now published his column.

In that column, Lucas Peterson noted that many passengers on the burned-out bus lost luggage worth orders of magnitude more than Megabus will compensate them for. (It’s the company’s written policy to reimburse passengers no more than $250 for damaged, or charred, luggage.)

One passenger, Alice Taylor, told Peterson she lost $1,000+ in luggage, including a laptop. Another passenger, Darnell McKinney, told Peterson he was moving to Milwaukee on the bus, and lost “most of his possessions”—including his birth certificate and Social Security card.

When asked about this policy Sean Hughes, Director of Corporate Affairs for North America, told Chicagoist, “Everything is currently being reviewed. Obviously, we need to talk to passengers is what’s going on… but obviously the $250 is part of our ticket.”

Hughes declined to elaborate on whether that meant there was flexibility around the compensation cap.

In his column, Peterson also cited various high-profile Megabus accidents. He wrote:

In 2010, a double-decker Megabus crashed into a railroad overpass in upstate New York, killing four on the top deck. In 2014, 26 passengers were hurt when a Megabus rolled over near Seymour, Ind. And in 2015, 19 were injured when a Megabus traveling from Chicago to Atlanta crashed.
In Hughes’ official statement, he confirmed that the bus from Chicago to Minneapolis was “involved in an incident,” and said that Megabus is “fully cooperating with the authorities with their investigation into the incident." However, Hughes focused mostly on safety. He wrote: takes safety as our top priority and maintains the highest safety compliance rating (Satisfactory) from the US Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Also, the Transportation Safety Exchange (TSX), an independent safety rating organization that provides safety ratings of more than 300,000 passenger and freight carriers, announced in January 2014 that all carriers are TSX-approved. This approval was renewed in the fall of 2015. is the first carrier group to achieve TSX approval, demonstrating the most stringent safety standards in the industry. requires more hours off between shifts than is required by the federal and state regulators, has seat belts on our bus since 2007, and has had GPS tracking on all of our buses since 2006. These are some of multiple precautionary steps takes to ensure our passengers are safe and far exceed both federal and state requirements.

Are the crashes Peterson cites proof that Megabus is cheap for a reason, or aberrations in an overall safe system? We have no idea. We have to say, though—this bus explosion is a terrible stroke of luck, for passengers who lost basically everything, and for Megabus, who had one of the worst “incidents” in their company history live-Tweeted by a nationally-known reporter.