While options for bus lines and rail companies abound, the vast majority are limited to local and regional service for commuter, tourist and charter travel. Both forms of transportation have seen their heyday come and go, but there are still unique benefits to both, and each can provide a more leisurely, relaxed, scenic way to travel.
GREYHOUND BUS SERVICE
With over 13,000 departures daily, serving more than 2300 destinations across North America, Greyhound is the country’s largest passenger bus company. The great thing about travel on Greyhound is that no reservations are necessary and seating is first-come, first-serve. All you have to do is arrive an hour before departure, buy a ticket and hop on the bus.
While food and non-alcoholic beverages are allowed, buses also make meal stops as close to mealtimes as possible. Providing 24-hour service, all buses are fitted with air-conditioning, reclining seats, footrests and an on-board restroom. With amenities like these, riding the bus can be relaxing and comfortable as you gaze at the scenery out Greyhound’s tinted panoramic windows.
CHARTER, TOUR & SIGHTSEEING BUS SERVICE
These companies typically specialize in shorter distance trips and group travel. They are perfect for touring a city, taking a trip to the casino, or shuttle transportation for recreational events. Companies like Coach USA and USA Bus Charter, include travel options ranging from full size charter buses for lengthier trips and large organizations, to mini buses for airport transportation and small group tours. Traveling by bus, whether for recreation or business, can take the stress out of dealing with driving, directions, getting lost, and sitting in horrendous traffic jams. Buses allow passengers the freedom to kick back and enjoy the ride, not to mention they are more environmentally friendly than groups driving multiple cars.
With railways stretching nation wide, Amtrak has paired with Access America Travel Insurance & Assistance, Continental Airlines, AAA, and created a Thruway Motorcoach partnership with Greyhound for added passenger convenience. Many Amtrak trains are equipped with sleeper and dining cars for longer trips. Sleeper cars can easily accommodate two adults, while Superliners have rooms built for families. Regular meals are provided with sleeping accommodations, and while food carried on by the passenger is allowed, dining cars provide a full menu, children’s menu as well as beverages, including cocktails and beer. Superliner and Viewliner trains also come with two levels of seating, the upper level providing for better views, especially when traveling through scenic geography. Other amenities include daily newspapers and complimentary bottled water.
THE NICHE RAIL MARKET
While Amtrak has captured the majority of the intra-continental passenger service, smaller companies like Vacations by Rail, Great Train Escapes, and Alaska Rail Tours, have sprung up to cater to those travelers interested in more scenic trips. These companies focus on routes that saunter through parks, mountains, valleys, and other natural wonders, offering incredible vistas and snapshots of wildlife seldom experienced in other parts of America. Sometimes linking service with Amtrak trains, like the California Zephyr traveling from Chicago to California, or offering completely separate train packages. These smaller operators often offer discounts for advanced bookings and they specialize in catering to those who ride the rails not to get from point-A to point-B, but simply for the experience.