Bus line to offer local express to St. Louis, Chicago

CHAMPAIGN – Greyhound is taking a page from the Megabus.com playbook in introducing Greyhound Express service from Chicago to Champaign and St. Louis on March 22.

That will give Champaign passengers faster trips than conventional Greyhound service to Chicago and St. Louis, with either direct or one-stop service.

Plus, it will provide guaranteed seats on new buses equipped with free Wi-Fi, extra legroom and power outlets for laptops.

For a limited time, Greyhoud will offer $1 fares on all Greyhound Express service between Chicago, Champaign and St. Louis for travel made between March 22 and April 5.

Greyhound spokeswoman Bonnie Bastian said the new service is "very similar" to what Megabus.com offers on its Midwestern routes.

Megabus.com began providing discount service to Champaign in March 2008 with the introduction of its Chicago-to-Memphis.

Greyhound will continue to offer its conventional bus service, which stops at smaller towns, Bastian said.

Greyhound launched Greyhound Express in the Midwest last November, initially providing service between its Chicago hub and cities including Milwaukee, Madison, Wis., Minneapolis, Indianapolis and Lafayette, Ind. In February, Cincinnati was added to the list.

"Since launching Greyhound Express in the Midwest just four months ago, we have seen tremendous growth in ticket sales from new riders who are attracted to the convenience, comfort and value of our premium bus service," said Dave Leach, Greyhound's president and CEO, in a news release.

Boarding for Greyhound Express will take place at Illinois Terminal, 45 E. University Ave., C. Passengers going to St. Louis will disembark at the Gateway Transportation Center, 430 S. 15th St., while passengers to Chicago will go to the Greyhound Terminal, 630 W. Harrison St.

Customers can buy Greyhound Express tickets online (http://www.mygreyhoundexpress.com) to get discount pricing; tickets can be printed at home.

According to that website, someone taking Greyhound Express from Champaign to St. Louis on March 22 could leave at either 9:30 a.m. or 9:30 p.m. and arrive in St. Louis in about 3 hours and 15 minutes.

The one-way trip would cost $1 for those taking advantage of the introductory promotional Web fare. The standard fare for that trip would be $24, and the advance-purchase fare would be $15. Those wanting a refundable ticket, however, would have to pay $32.27.

Bastian said those taking conventional Greyhound service to St. Louis would have either two stops in Decatur or a stop each in Decatur and Springfield.

Someone taking Greyhound Express one-way from Champaign to Chicago on March 22 would have five choices of departure times, with the trip taking roughly 2 1/2 hours.

The introductory Web fare would be $1; the standard fare $13; and the advance-purchase fare $10. A refundable ticket would cost $19.77.

Conventional Greyhound service to Chicago includes stops at Kankakee, Markham and in south Chicago at 95th Street and the Dan Ryan Expressway. That last stop is included on some of the Greyhound Express trips.

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