COLUMBIA — A group of about 10 people sat at the Wabash Station’s parking lot on Thursday, awaiting their ride. Mostly college students, some were visiting home. Some were heading to a party. But all were headed to their destination via the newest daily express bus service in town.
With its sides prominently advertising the company’s starting rate of $1, Megabus made its first stop in Columbia on Thursday. Passengers handed their luggage to the driver and entered the 78-seat double-decker bus, ready to head to St. Louis and Chicago. The service announced on Feb. 28 that it would offer rides from Columbia to Kansas City, St. Louis and Chicago. The addition of Columbia brings the number of Midwest cities that Megabus conducts business in to 17. The service also operates in eight West Coast cities and the United Kingdom.
Megabus rates start at $1 and increase in $5 to $8 increments as lower-priced tickets sell out.
Passengers at Wabash Station were excited to ride at low prices.
“It’s a lot cheaper than wasting my gas,” Ashley Harris said. Harris, a student at Southwestern Illinois College, paid $9 for her reservation and said she was returning home to St. Louis after touring MU, where she is thinking of transferring.
Harris has used Megabus before during rides from St. Louis and likes the service.
“I’ve rode it before so I know how it goes,” Harris said. “You get me with a good price and a good bus and I’m good to go.”
MU student Siubhan Wright also used Megabus to travel to her home.
“My birthday is on Monday and I want to go home,” Wright said.
The Chicago native had a more expensive fare than Harris — it cost her $70.50 for a round-trip ticket.
“I think I paid that much because I waited until two days before,” Wright said.
The Megabus experience was not completely positive, however. The bus rolled into Wabash Station at 1:54 p.m., 24 minutes later than its scheduled arrival time. Passengers had grown anxious earlier. Harris called Megabus to determine when the bus would come and a group of four MU graduate students half-joked about starting one of their cars to make the trip. Smiles of relief were visible when the gigantic, dark-blue bus pulled into the station. Despite arriving in Columbia late, Harris said in a phone call that the bus made it to St. Louis on time.