MEGABUS IS A NEW OPTION TO CHICAGO THE BUS SERVICE WILL LINK CHICAGO, MADISON AND MINNEAPOLIS BEGINNING MARCH 13.

MEGABUS IS A NEW OPTION TO CHICAGO THE BUS SERVICE WILL LINK CHICAGO, MADISON AND MINNEAPOLIS BEGINNING MARCH 13.

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New intercity bus service between Madison, Chicago and Minneapolis will begin March 13 by a subsidiary of Coach USA.

Megabus.com, which books fares only on the Internet at www.megabus.com , will offer bus trips for as low as $1 a ticket for those who make the earliest reservations.

Madison will become a stop on one daily round trip between Chicago and Minneapolis. The buses will stop at the Dutch Mill park and ride near Stoughton Road and the Beltline.

The company uses 56- and 79-passenger buses, said Dale Moser, Megabus.com's president and chief operating officer.

Moser said the company's computerized routing and reservation booking system allows it to offer low fares. He said the maximum fare for a Madison-to-Chicago trip will be $26.

"Coach USA already had the carrier's infrastructure of facilities, fleet and maintenance," Moser said. "It was just a matter of designing routes."

If fuel prices continue to rise, Moser said he believes Megabus.com's business will grow because people will see it as an alternative to driving or flying.

He said the company has tripled its two daily round trips that began in April 2006 on the Chicago-Minneapolis route and sometimes adds buses to those trips.

Five of those trips are via Milwaukee and don't stop in Madison.

Moser said the express bus service without additional stops means that trips take a comparable amount of time to driving.

The company serves 17 Midwest cities and eight cities on the West Coast. Other Midwest cities served include Ann Arbor, Mich.; Bloomington-Normal, Ill.; Champaign, Ill.; Cincinnati; Cleveland; Columbia, Mo.; Columbus, Ohio; Detroit; Indianapolis; Kansas City, Mo.; Memphis, Tenn.; St. Louis and Toledo, Ohio.

Coach USA of Paramus, N.J., owns and operates more than 20 local bus companies. Van Galder Bus Co. of Janesville is affiliated with Coach USA but is independently managed and operated. Coach USA is a subsidiary of the British Stagecoach Group.

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