Travel Information – Bus
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Tips for Bus Travel:
– Don’t do it! Okay, well, sometimes you have no choice.
– On long-haul trips, plan to arrive the day before you screen or check in, especially during the winter months. Make sure there is at least 2 additional bus schedules that will still get you to the clinic on time in case of bus breakdown, delays or you miss the bus while taking a dump in a dingy gas station bathroom.
– As much as you don’t want to, drink lots of water. It can get hot on the bus and you will get very dehydrated. I usually print a copy of the bus schedule and pinpoint when the stops will be, then I drink a bunch of water 45 minutes to 1 hour before each stop so I can pee when I get there.
– Don’t sit in the rear of the bus. Diesel fumes will not be good for you. Plus the smell of the toilet. And usually the seedy people sit in the back. Sit up front near the door so you can get some fresh air at each stop.
– Traveling on Friday or Saturday will usually cost a few dollars more and will also be more crowded. Try to travel during the week if possible. Avoid holidays as well. If the fares seem higher than normal, that means the demand is higher.
– Bring ear plugs. They will allow you to sleep better but be aware of transfers you may have to make so you don’t sleep through them!
There is a helpful website called Busbud which helps you find schedules and prices.
Shofur is a new service in California and Texas. Service is limited but may be an alternative to Greyhound or Megabus.
Comparison between Greyhound and Megabus:
|National coverage (most major cities)||Yes||No|
|Through Ticketing (buy a ticket to any points in the system)||Yes*||No|
|Waiting Areas, bus stations, staffed stations||Many||Very Limited|
|Buy your ticket in person||At staffed stations||No|
|Buy your ticket online||Yes||Yes**|
|Online booking fee/service charge||$3.50 per ticket||$2.00 per transaction|
|Gifting fee (buying a ticket for someone else)||$18||None|
|Reservation change fee||$10 + diff in fare||1.50 + diff in fare***|
|Rebook if you miss a connection due to any delays||Yes||No|
|Reserved seating (for a particular route, not a specific seat)||Greyhound Express Only||Yes|
|Checked Luggage Allowance||1 Free||1 Free|
|Additional Luggage Allowance||1 for $10||1 for $10|
|Carryon Allowance||1 personal item||1 personal item|
|Wifi and Power Outlets||Limited||Yes|
|Email Service Alerts||No||Yes|
|Accessibility||Must Call in Advance||Best to Call in Advance|
* Most point to point tickets can be booked through Greyhound unless part or all of route is operated by a subcontractor
** All Megabus tickets must be purchased online with credit/debit
*** Changes must be made 24 hours prior to departure
**** You may purchase an additional seat for the luggage allowance
Greyhound has been standard for intercity bus travel since its inception but has gradually become the conveyance of people who otherwise would not be able to travel long distances. That being said, Greyhound is not perfect by any means. While Greyhound got a little seedy for awhile, they have renovated many of their terminals and upgraded some of their buses. Greyhound does offer many more destinations than Megagbus but the crowd on Greyhound is a little rougher than those on Megabus.
- Be aware that having a ticket does not guarantee a seat on the bus. If there are too many people for the schedule, then some people will be left stranded till the next schedule. However, if you are on a Greyhound Express route, then you will have a reserved seat on that route. Greyhound Express is Greyhound's answer to Megabus and they operate in a similar fashion.
- Greyhound offers 7 day advance discounts to most locations.
- Greyhound offers web only pricing but these are nonrefundable
- You can make a reservation online through Greyhound and pay with cash at most 7 Eleven's or Ace Cash Express. You can check for locations when you make the reservation. Keep the receipt. That is your ticket.
Originating in the UK, Megabus has been expanding across the US rapidly bringing low cost intercity bus travel to the masses. Megabus is best for inline service, ie no bus changes. With that said, if you want to go a long distance on Megabus, you have to buy separate tickets for each leg. If you wanted to go from San Antonio to New York, you would have to buy a ticket from San Antonio to Dallas, Dallas to Memphis and Memphis to New York. The problem is that Megabus offers no connection guarantees so that means worse case scenario if for whatever reason your bus from San Antonio to Dallas was late (other than equipment failure, you might get a pass on that), you would be SOL on the other two legs. So if you are going to book a multi-leg trip, make sure you have ample connection time.
As far as service quality, I like Megabus over Greyhound. The main plus is the power outlets. This helps so you can use your laptop or recharge your phone enroute which are things you probably limit yourself to without the plugs.
As advertised on the side of the buses, you can get fares for as low as $1 plus booking fee. They usually release tickets about 3 months ahead of time and once the $1 seats are gone, the price goes up. OF course, they don't mention how many $1 seats there are.
- Book your ticket as soon as possible but once your are sure you are going. Depending on the route, decent last minute fares can be had but buses can sell out.
- Tickets are non refundable but you can change your ticket at least 24 hours in advance for a $1 change fee plus the difference in fare but no refunds if the new fare is less than you paid.
- Pack light or buy another seat.
- Bring snacks. While Megabus does make some meal stops, depending on how far you are going, don't count on it.
- Friday thru Sunday and holidays are very busy times so be prepared for the rush especially between major cities with Universities. A lot of students go home on the weekends.
- Be at least 15 minutes early to the stop.
- You can download the app can see if the bus is on schedule but don't trust it completely. It's been wrong a few times so it's best to still show up on time.
- Megabus is not nationwide so it works best for short hops if you live in Texas, Chicago or on the east coast.