7 Reasons To Take The Bus
In the deeply entrenched hierarchy of transportation options, flying has always been comfortable in its position above all others. Recently, air travel's superior convenience has been eroded by crowded routes, increasing delays, and long security lines. At the same time, increases in fuel prices have made budget fares difficult to find. By now, the glamor of flight has faded in the eyes of most travelers.
Meanwhile, a once lowly mode of transportation, the bus, has been working hard to craft its niche in the budget market. More comfortable buses and cheaper fares are covering more routes than ever before.
Here are seven reasons to consider taking the bus:
Low cost airlines have made huge progress in America over the last five years, but even at their most discounted, it is hard to compete with the bus. The well known "China Town" buses continue to operate between Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and Washington D.C with fares around $15 one way. At the same time, newcomers like BoltBus have introduced fares on similar routes as low as $1. Even Greyhound has introduced a group of fares that range in price from $13 to $34 one way.
Cheap buses have always been available to take you around town, but it used to be that longer routes were limited to trips between New York and Boston. Recently, however, these low cost buses have dramatically increased their route coverage extending up and down the both coasts, around the Midwest, and even, with some changes between carriers, across the country. Currently, Gotobus and the British owned Megabus dominate these networks. Of course, if you are thinking about taking a really long trip, Greyhound still claims it will take you anywhere in the United States for $99.
I know what you are thinking: sounds good, but the bus is so slow. It is true that while the bus plods along around 55 mph, the airplane is high above, cruising at hundreds of miles an hour. But when you add up connection times and layovers, indirect routes that cater to an airline's hubs instead of your travel plans, and the time it takes to get to and from airports, the time savings in transit are drastically reduced.
The bus, which has a main station in the center of most cities, may indeed get you there faster, especially if you are traveling to a nearby city. I don't even want to get into the hassle caused by delayed, canceled or missed airline connections, but it does remind me of my next point...
I have been a frequent traveler on the route between New York City and Syracuse, which passes through a notorious snow belt. These trips have taught me one thing: the bus will continuing driving though conditions that would stop your personal car, let alone an airplane. It is very rare for a bus to be canceled and, in my experience, the companies know their routes well enough that significant delays are rare (though they do occur, of course). When you book a bus ticket you can be almost guaranteed that the bus will depart as scheduled.
5. Its More Green
Many analysts say that one flight produces the same amount of CO2 per person per mile as if the passengers were driving alone in separate cars. In addition, airplanes emit many other harmful materials and it all goes directly into the upper atmosphere. The result of this, we are told, is that the damage to the atmosphere done by flying is almost twice that of driving the same number of miles in a car. When you look at the numbers, a full bus is much more gentle on the environment than a flight of the same distance. That said, the debate is ongoing.
6. Free Wi-Fi
The second major complaint commonly voiced about bus travel, after its perceived slowness, is that it is uncomfortable. Interestingly, as many airlines stripamenities to become more bus-like, some bus lines have taken action to make travel more comfortable. A notable example is the BoltBus, which in addition to its $1 fares, offers free Wi-Fi access on all of its routes.
Many bus lines offer exceptional flexibility with their tickets. Greyhound, for one, allows you to use a ticket for the reserved route on any day or time for which there is availability, up to a year after the original departure date. Other companies, notably Megabus, allow you to change your reservation with 24 hours advance notice and only a $1 service charge. I have also found drivers to be very generous with the baggage allowances as long as the bus is not too full, something you will never experience flying.
The humble bus is coming back as a cheap and friendly alternative to flying. With the environmental controversy, security and scheduling hassles, and increasing prices andsafety concerns, why not give this old, budget travel standby, another chance?