Forget the plane, forget the train. What about the bus the next time you have to travel?
If you’re old enough, you probably remember when America was covered wall-to-wall by Trailways and Greyhound. Both of those companies essentially went through the meat grinder when airline deregulation occurred. In the wake of deregulation, it suddenly made more sense to fly than drive for long routes.
Bus companies never seemed to figure out that the real market was on routes that were within a 250-mile radius of a given starting point. Eventually, one British company called Megabus realized that and got into the domestic market. Now there are multiple competitors including Bolt Bus, GreyHound Express and Wanderu.com.
These companies offer regional hub routes that started in the Northeast, went to the Midwest and now offer some West Coast travel. All of these new bus services offer cheap fares starting at $1 per ride for a limited number of people on each bus, while the other passengers pay real fares that are still quite cheap in the $10-$20 range.
These are not your father’s Greyhound buses. They don’t stop in every little nook and cranny on a route; they run nonstop between metro areas in typical four-hour runs. (Some routes may be longer.) The buses all offer free onboard wifi. They tend to be clean with comfortable seats. Certain carriers are introducing double-decker buses with more room and supposedly more comfort. This is a truly viable option for cheap travel.
A lot of our country will never have enough population density to warrant high-speed trains. And trains are much more expensive than buses. So if you are looking to get somewhere and your first reaction is, “A bus?!,” well, think again. This can be a potential real deal.
My youngest producer Joel and his wife took MegaBus from Atlanta to New Orleans (nearly nine hours roundtrip) and they paid $11 and change each roundtrip. That’s roughly $6 one way! MegaBus gets the thumbs up from Joel and his wife for price and timely pickup/dropoff. But be warned that the bathrooms may not be the cleanest, particularly for ladies.
About Clark Howard
Find more answers to your consumer questions, plus Clark’s new book “Living Large for the Long Haul,” at ClarkHoward.com.
Listen to Clark Howard weeknights from 6 to 9 p.m. on AM1290/95.7FM News Talk WHIO.
The new book
Clark’s brand-new book is “Living Large for the Long Haul,” which is chock full of real-life wisdom.