A Cathay Present: Bus Travels in USA

Before I continue on to the next episode in my trip, I would just like to digress a little and share about the Bus Travels in USA, since this is basically the main form of transportation when in country, especially when you are travelling solo. America is a place where there is high importance on road travels, but of course, renting a car might not be the most cost effective way when you are travelling alone or on a budget. Trains travels are also not as well developed like the Europe, furthermore the Amtrak, holds such a great Monopoly that I would say that trains tickets are way too overpriced. That leaves the flights and buses as the main form of transportation around cities and getting by. Flights may not be ideal for certain distance, together with the cost of getting to the airport, leaving long distance coaches as the remaining solution. On a rule of thumb, I would go for a coaches if it is less than 5 hours. In this post, I just wanna share a little on what you can expect to get during bus travels.

The various major bus companies includes, Greyhound, Megabus and the upcoming Boltbus, which has becoming more and more popular, especially with the younger crowd. When choosing which bus company to travel with it is important to look at where the bus stops at in your city, this is very important rather than just comparing base on tickets price! For example in Baltimore, Megabus drops you at White Marsh Mall, rather that in Baltimore city itself. That is roughly like 20 miles out of the city centre. Important point! Remember to check out the stops information!

Prices also do not include taxes, thus you have to go to the next page to see the final prices. Do take into account of the changes and fee needed. In fact, I will treat all tickers bought as non refundable. For example, during my latest trip to the states, I got some boltbus tickets, but as my plan changes, to change the ticket, I need to pay like 2 buck, plus some 5 buck admin fee and any fare changes. Sometimes it may be more than the bus tickets itself. And as for Bolt Bus, you need to call in, which is so inconvenient, especially for a traveller from overseas! Now which product is better. While I can’t speak for Megabus, since I did not try it during this trip. I did get a chance to experience both Greyhound and Boltbus. Both are pretty easy in making booking online. The website is pretty straight forward. Greyhound is the long established brand, the oldest brand in history. For loyalty wise, Boltbus seems to be better, especially if you are taking a lot of rides. For every 8 rides, you get one free ride. Legacy or Old seats?

Service wise, Greyhound seems to be better since they are the older brand. There are usually full service stops, with toilets and staff on hand to help you with any details. However they are more troublesome as well, you have to get your luggage check with the staff and get a tag, only then you can place it under the bus. The staff will be on hand to help you place your bag under the bus as well. While for Bolt, you basically just turn up at the stop and meet the driver, who will verify your ticket and then you place your bag yourself under the bus. However this does mean Bolt is way more lenient about baggage weight and requirement. There is also boarding calls for Greyhound, but for bolt you have to be there yourself.

The actual bus itself. I had bad experience on Greyhound. As a legacy brand, it also means that their bus are way older. For the first time, the aircon was basically spoiled and it was so stuffy. The seat also didn’t recline at all. Leg room is actually pretty good on both Bolt and Greyhound, you do have to make some good choice. As per on flights, certain rows have more legroom than the other. Both of my greyhound rides were delayed and one was even for hours. I do have to say, bus timings are extremely inconsistent! Be more liquid!

On both bus brands, wifi was provided but they are usually barely unusable. I hate that the bus do not have a hanger, furthermore in the colder months, it could be really useful. In comparison, bolt bus felt much better, perhaps I am lucky since the one time that I took it, the load is rather light. I had one of the best seat. The bus is also super new and gorgeous, in comparison to Greyhound. The bus smells good and the leather seats were comfy and smooth. Even though it is supposed to be a low cost version, targeted at the youngsters, it felt like first class. There are also more outlets available on bolt. Wifi is also provided, but there is a cap of 100mb for free, this might be better since at least the speed are usable due to the cap.

Conclusion, not a pretty bad service since given how popular bus travels are due to the price of the trains, it can be at a 10% cost of a train ticket. Doing a comparison to Flixbus, american bus sucks. Flixbus has such a good platform and system, making it easier, everything can be done online and you just have to turn up to the bus at the time. Everything is more streamlined. With everything being said, bus still seems to be your only form of transport. They are super popular and frequently crowded.

 

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