Bus Travel In The US An Overview For Visitors

Bus travel takes a​ different role in​ the​ car-driven culture of​ the​ United States than it​ does in​ most countries. Because the​ area of​ the​ US is​ so vast,​ flying is​ often the​ most attractive transportation option for traveling between cities and can be priced quite competitively when factoring in​ time and convenience. For shorter distances driving is​ usually the​ first choice for US domestic travelers. However,​ for routes that are under five or​ six hours,​ the​ bus is​ almost always the​ most economical and often the​ most convenient form of​ travel. Furthermore,​ as​ Amtrak (the national rail service) continues to​ see cuts in​ government funding,​ bus service is​ often the​ only ground transportation option for many destinations. Visitors who are planning to​ stick to​ major cities will most likely find having a​ car to​ be inconvenient,​ expensive,​ and unnecessary. Therefore,​ taking the​ bus between destinations is​ a​ great option.

Many Americans view traveling by bus with some trepidation,​ and,​ whether deserved or​ not,​ bus service in​ the​ US often has the​ reputation of​ being rather basic. in​ truth,​ the​ level of​ service varies greatly among bus carriers. Some carriers,​ like LuxBus in​ California or​ Transfloridian in​ Florida,​ offer deluxe buses and feature services that are rarely even found on​ airlines today,​ such as​ on-board entertainment and complimentary food and beverage service. Still,​ standard bus service is​ generally more on​ the​ budget level and offers few amenities. Food options are more likely to​ be a​ ten minute stop at​ a​ roadside fast food restaurant than on-board meal service.

The bus industry in​ the​ United States is​ dominated by Greyhound,​ which is​ the​ only remaining nationwide bus carrier. Several other companies such as​ Trailways and Coach USA are made up of​ independently owned bus companies that share marketing functions and branding. in​ addition there are several strong regional players in​ the​ bus industry. While these companies compete with Greyhound,​ they often end up sharing service on​ routes that do not have enough traffic to​ sustain two carriers. This is​ similar to​ “code sharing” in​ the​ airline industry.

The most recent development in​ the​ U.S. bus industry has been the​ “Chinatown bus” phenomenon. Several years ago a​ few enterprising business people in​ New York’s Chinatown started running buses from Chinatown in​ NY to​ Chinatown in​ Boston,​ charging less than half of​ what traditional bus companies did and a​ fraction of​ what it​ cost to​ take the​ train or​ fly. They targeted Asian immigrants who wanted to​ shop or​ visit relatives and needed inexpensive and convenient transportation. Although the​ buses were modern and comfortable,​ the​ service was bare bones—no advertising,​ customer service,​ or​ bus stations. Customers simply went to​ the​ bus stop,​ waited for the​ bus,​ and paid the​ driver upon boarding. For those willing to​ do without frills,​ these companies offered virtually the​ same service as​ Greyhound at​ a​ substantially lower price. Before long,​ word spread about the​ service and all kinds of​ travelers started using these bus lines. They became especially popular with students,​ budget travelers,​ and people for whom the​ service was simply more convenient.

Soon more bus companies duplicated this model and started offering service in​ other markets. Now you​ can find this type of​ bus service in​ Philadelphia,​ Virginia,​ Washington DC,​ Los Angeles and San Francisco. at​ this point the​ term “Chinatown bus” is​ used more loosely to​ describe this sort of​ low-cost/low-frills service. Many,​ if​ not most,​ of​ the​ company’s do not have Chinatown as​ there main location and may not cater to​ the​ immigrant population at​ all. When these companies first started operating,​ concerns were raised about safety standards. There is​ still controversy within the​ industry about whether these low-cost bus companies are complying with the​ same regulations as​ the​ traditional companies. Nonetheless,​ all bus companies operating in​ the​ U.S. must undergo the​ same inspection standards and must comply with the​ same rules.

Finding information about scheduled bus service is​ not always easy for visitors to​ the​ US. Historically bus companies have sold tickets at​ on-site ticket booths. Many now sell through their own websites as​ well. Whereas for plane travel there are many online booking sites that allow travelers to​ compare different carriers,​ it​ is​ more difficult to​ find route information for bus service. GotoBus.com is​ a​ centralized booking site focused on​ bus travel. it​ offers search capability similar to​ Expedia or​ Travelocity and sells tickets for many different bus and tour companies.

Overall,​ the​ bus is​ a​ great option for visitors to​ the​ US who are looking for transportation between major US cities. For most cities,​ a​ car is​ not necessary and will be inconvenient and expensive. in​ metropolitan areas there are more choices for bus service today than at​ any time in​ the​ recent past. Particularly for shorter distances,​ it​ is​ the​ best way to​ go for the​ budget minded traveler.
Bus Travel In The US An Overview For Visitors Bus Travel In The US An Overview For Visitors Reviewed by Henda Yesti on July 18, 2018 Rating: 5

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