Lonely Planet Writer

Travel writer live-tweets bus explosion on-the-spot

A budget travel writer for the New York Times ended up on a very ill-fated low-cost bus ride – and live-tweeted a series of malfunctions that ended in the bus exploding.

A New York Times reporter live-Tweeted a bus explosion.
A New York Times reporter live-Tweeted a bus explosion. Image by The Frugal Traveler Twitter

Lucas Peterson, a writer for The New York Times’ Frugal Traveler blog, was on a Megabus ride from Chicago to Milwaukee on Sunday. He soon tweeted that “An hour into trip, turning around to ‘switch buses.’ Currently learning that on @megabus, you get what you pay for.” But having to turn around wouldn’t be the biggest inconvenience on the ride.

A New York Times reporter live-Tweeted a bus explosion.
A New York Times reporter live-Tweeted a bus explosion. Image by The Frugal Traveler Twitter

Peterson soon tweeted “Update: the bus is on fire.” Five minutes later, he tweeted “Update: the bus exploded.”

A New York Times reporter live-Tweeted a bus explosion.
A New York Times reporter live-Tweeted a bus explosion. Image by The Frugal Traveler Twitter

The tweets quickly picked up some steam and Peterson provided updates, explaining that the travellers were off the bus and he was trying to see if everyone got out okay. He noted that “Most luggage got incinerated”.

It also seemed like a frighteningly close call, as he explained in his tweets that after a tire blew, the driver pulled over on the highway and said there was no need to panic. Then, smoke started pouring out of the bus. “Someone on the top deck eventually says: ‘we should get off of this bus.’ So we all get out. People trying to get their luggage. Small fire.” He continued: “Small fire over wheel becomes big; people abandon luggage and get away. Entire thing goes up in flames, series of loud booms.”

Peterson notes that police said no one was injured, but they did have some bad news. “The kicker: officer says ‘they’re sending another Megabus to pick you guys up.’ ” Peterson continued to tweet about the other travellers who were on the bus and the possessions they lost in the explosion. He posted pictures of people who said they lost laptops, birth certificates, and many other important possessions. He also tweeted information from the company’s insurance policy, noted that “Passengers are looking up Megabus TOC which limits liability to $250; some very unhappy people.”

According to a Chicago Sun-Times article, a spokesperson for the bus company said it is co-operating with authorities in their investigation. Peterson ended his tweets saying he made it to his destination safely, five hours after the terrible ride began.