Bus Travel Takes Off

May 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Travel News

Bus travel in the United States has increased (8.1% in 2007 and 9.8% in 2008) over the past couple of years. A nation that prides itself on traveling by automobile is starting to see ultra cheap bus tickets that are too attractive to pass up. In many cases, travelers are finding that it’s even more convenient than air travel. That’s especially true in the Northeast corridor with the popular route from New York to Boston that is served by Chinatown buses.
chinatown-bus.jpg Chinatown Bus © Naomi A.

Americans love their cars, but concerns over gas prices and the environment are likely to keep them open to alternatives. If buses prices continue to drop, inter-city bus travel will persevere in the coming years. That scenario is likely with the success of budget companies such as MegaBus and BoltBus. Throw in President Obama’s recent proposal for a high-speed rail, and the nation may be moving in a new direction.

Have you traveled by bus in the U.S.? Which route? How was it?
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gennaro-salamone-photo.jpgGennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing a travel article or photograph for publication.

 

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Comments

26 Responses to “Bus Travel Takes Off”
  1. John H says:

    I’ve taken buses a few times. There are some ridiculously low prices. Seen some as low as $1. I’ve done Philly to NYC. It was comfortable and cheap. I also liked that it dropped me off in the downtown. In the city itself not at an airport 45 minutes to an hour away. Big advantage for closer cities. Also didn’t want to drive into NYC. Parking is too expensive.

  2. Missy says:

    For shorter distances (less than 5 hours), I like bus travel. More than that I need to fly. Done a bunch of bus travel and it’s pretty comfortable. I’d like to see a high speed railway. That would be even more comfortable and quicker.

    Think Americans love cars too much for either to take off too much in the next decade. After that the newer generations are likely to be a bit different.

  3. Gennaro says:

    @John H

    I’ve seen the $1 deals. Crazy. NYC is a perfect city to arrive without auto.

    @Missy

    Americans definitely love their cars. I can see cheap bus travel working well in between certain routes especially with low fares. With certain big cities it’s often better to arrive without a car.

  4. jen laceda says:

    Yes, from Toronto to NYC (10 hours) to see my ex-bf, who lived there. I miss NY…

  5. I tend to take the train rather than the bus – between Philly and NYC and Philly and Vermont. I usually do the local trains to NYC because it is so much cheaper than Amtrak but it’s a little annoying – the rush to the train when you change in Trenton and the trains don’t have restrooms. Maybe I’ll try the Chinatown bus.

    When I go to Vermont I take Amtrak – it takes longer than driving but it’s usually really pleasant.

    I haven’t traveled a long distance by bus since I was kid. I went from Boston to Florida with my grandmother by Greyhound. We got trapped in the Port Authority on NYC on the way back for a couple of days because of the blizzard of ’78.

  6. Gennaro says:

    @jen laceda

    THat’s a lengthy, but popular route too.

    @Kim Woodbridge

    Train travel tends to be more comfortable than bus travel though more expensive in terms of the recent budget buses. Boston to Florida is quite the trip and that’s a cool experience. Though I’m sure it wasn’t at the time.

  7. Nik says:

    My only chance of traveling by bus in the states was with the Greyhound. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a pleasant experience. I don’t think I’ll ever travel Greyhound again! =/

  8. Sid says:

    I hope that high-speed rail goes through. Will cut down on traffic. Much of the car journey anywhere in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic take forever because of the sheer number of cars on the road. In terms of bus travel, I did a trip from Jersey through the end of Virginia. Not too bad.

  9. Gennaro says:

    @Nik

    I’ve heard mix reviews for Greyhound. They have lots of competition now. Interested to see if they improve their service.

    @Sid

    The high-speed rail is intriguing. Of course, it wouldn’t be up and running for years.

  10. Hi Gennaro,

    We were up in NYC this past week and we took the bus to the city. It was a short trip but the only problem was the gas fumes. The bus smelled like gas both on the way up and on the way back home which kind of made me feel sick. However, it was a lot cheaper than driving to NYC.

    Port Authority is always crowded but it did seem more crowded than usual. So I am not surprised that more people are traveling by bus. :)

  11. Gennaro says:

    @Nadia

    Thanks for the confirmation. Some buses still have that fume issue. Must be worked on. A lot of buses are going the natural gas route. Wonder if plug-in hybrids are next.

  12. Andrew says:

    Hi Gennaro,

    Unfortunately, I have not actually been to your country, so naturally, I do not have any experiences with busses in the U.S, and I am not able to make informed comment with regards to the convenience or comfort associated with this means of travel in your country.

    That said, I have been travelling by long distance bus in Korea for four years, and I love it. It’s cheap, easy, comfortable, convenient and I find travelling time to be a wonderful time to relax, read a book, study some Korean or just sit back and enjoy the scenery of the beautiful countryside.

  13. J.D. Meier says:

    I hope we get to see more high speed rail.

    Whenever I have visitors from Europe they say we’re so behind the times in the US and that rail is the way to go. I don’t think it’s a fair comparison, but I’m a fan of train rides ;)

  14. Gennaro says:

    @Andrew

    Bus travel is excellent in much of Asia. Agree that it’s a great opportunity to view the landscape of a country. Not to mention that the close proximity to others lends itself to chatting with others including locals.

    @J.D. Meier

    It would be an intriguing change for the States to have a greater focus on train travel especially a high-speed rail. Thinking it could work.

  15. fly girl says:

    The last trip by bus I took was after spending the night stranded in an airline terminal when my flight was cancelled. The airline chartered a bus from Michigan to Chicago. It was comfortable enough but because I get motion sickness, bus travel isn’t something I’d consider.

  16. Gennaro says:

    @fly girl

    Motion sickness is definitely a factor on buses especially when reading.

  17. George says:

    I have ridden Megabus and Bolt Bus and am impressed by how clean they were. The wifi was a nice touch as well. BusJunction is a great resource for finding a good ticket on one of the better lines.

  18. Gatlinburg says:

    I take the commuter train often and it is a great feeling as we are riding side by side with the interstate Hwy and all of the cars are stopped and gridlocked and the train is cruising along at 75mph!

  19. Conor says:

    This is great, hopefully the numbers will keep rising. It’s so important that we look after our environment now!!!

  20. johnny says:

    This is one change that I am all for, people should avail of public transport whenever they can, if not to save some money then definetely to save our environment.

  21. Keith says:

    I am in agreement with George, MegaBus (operating in the US, UK & Canada) provides excellent service in the Northeast Corridor Philly to NYC. As a side note, BoltBus which I had a great experience on traveling round trip from Philly to NYC to visit family in Manhattan is owned by the company that owns Greyhound). Not sure why they can’t take the level of service and cost back to improve the deplorable Greyhound.

    I would also like to add that while many people compare our lack of rail service to Europe’s, the size and space that an American system would need to cover to reach population dense areas would be cost prohibitive. The EU’s population density is ~113 people/Sq mile, while the US is just 80. Having just spent 3 weeks traveling Turkey by bus, I would love the US to have a competitive and comfortable bus system comparable to what we found there, maybe Bolt and Mega bus are the start.

  22. heidi says:

    Bus rides are fun. I hope even more people will take advantage of taking a bus to be more environment friendly.

  23. carmel says:

    This is great news, why not take the bus? Its quick, easy, cheap and environmentally friendly.

  24. Gennaro says:

    @johnny – Good point.

    @Keith – Would be great for the U.S. to develop it.

    @carmel – True.

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