Amtrak vs Greyhound

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Deni

Service Attendant
Joined
May 11, 2008
Messages
236
Greyhound serves more cities and tends to have higher frequencies. Also, lower prices. Is at the mercy of traffic.

Amtrak is more comfortable, has better bathrooms, and food service. Is at the mercy of freight delays.
Surprised no one has added this comment: On Greyhound, you MAY also be at the mercy of some of the other passengers.
Ha! True that. I do love to talk to people when I'm traveling but there have certainly been times in the lounge on Amtrak when I'm talking to someone and then realize they're a little crazy so I excuse myself to go get another beer, then sit someplace else when I come back. On a bus or plane there is nowhere else to go. It's one of the main reasons I don't strike up conversations on a plane.
 

jamess

Train Attendant
Joined
Apr 23, 2017
Messages
69
I have never taken MegaBus myself but have classmates who have taken the route between Boston and NYC regularly and they have no complaints except the connection to NJT could get precarious if the busses arrive or leave around the first or last train of the day. But that's hardly the busses' fault.
Megabus is interesting because of their web only ticketing model. It is a bargain, but you need internet access and a credit card, so that creates an interesting dynamic with the type of passengers they attract.
They dont advertise it, but you can pay cash at departure if there are seats available.
 

railiner

Conductor
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
9,384
Location
Palm Beach County
One advantage to Greyhound I can think of is routing would likely be easier because the highway network to a bus is much less restrictive than the railroad network to a passenger train.

Maybe I am missing some legal or operating aspects, but I imagine if Greyhound wants to optimize a route, the company can pretty much go ahead and do it, without having to negotiate with track owners, freight companies, the government, etc, etc.

About 10 years ago I rode Greyhound from Pittsburgh to Boston area as an unaccomplished minor (a teen). I remember my parents checked for trains but it was much more expensive and required transfers. I vaguely remember going from Pittsburgh to Framingham, Massachusetts without transfers, getting on the bus around midnight and arriving the next afternoon, but I can't seem to find a similar one seat route on Greyhound anymore. They must have changed their routes.
To my knowledge, Greyhound has not operated any thru service between Pittsburgh and Boston (or Framingham)...a transfer would have to be made at New York City.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

railiner

Conductor
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
9,384
Location
Palm Beach County
That said, the Greyhound of the 2010s is far better than any bus service in the 20th Century. But, the more things change, the more they stay the same. That includes the passengers on Greyhound. (And in many bus terminals.)
Perhaps, if the outlets and wifi is what matters to you.
Well, in 2017 it beats not having either and makes the ride more tolerable for those who can't get into having a nose stuck in a paperback book for hours on end.
But overall, the modern iteration of Greyhound Lines is a poor shadow of what they used to be, in terms of routes, schedules, terminals, and IMHO, the quality of personnel, from top to bottom, as well as service...
I think you have to qualify that statement by era. Is today's Greyhound what it was in the 1950s or 1960s or 1970s? Probably not. But I've ridden Greyhound in the bus post-consolidation/bankruptcies era of the 1980s as well as in the 2010s and I'll gladly take the 2010s over that period of time. And let's remember that Greyhound is the Emirates of nationwide US bus service; there are other operators who do a lesser job of intercity bus transport.
All right, then....the era before the 1980's...

From the mid 1920's, until the end of the seventies, no transportation company in the country so dominated its market, like Greyhound Lines did. It was indeed 'America's Busline"...

Its decline began with the end of regulation, and really took a dive when it was divested from the original Greyhound Corporation to its new owner's in the mid 1980's....

I would agree that it is better now then before First Group took it over, except perhaps in routes operated...
 

Maverickstation

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 2, 2017
Messages
281
Location
Boston, MA (Eastie)
In some cases bus companies fill in gaps where Amtrak leaves a void.

We have a private operator LimoLiner that runs between Boston and New York. There busses have wide seats and they provide snacks.

I use them to return on weekends when Evening Acela service from NYP is lite.

Ken
 

Philly Amtrak Fan

Conductor
Joined
Jul 25, 2015
Messages
2,024
Location
Philadelphia Area
In some cases bus companies fill in gaps where Amtrak leaves a void.

We have a private operator LimoLiner that runs between Boston and New York. There busses have wide seats and they provide snacks.

I use them to return on weekends when Evening Acela service from NYP is lite.

Ken
LimoLiner sounds expensive. Is it more expensive than NER trains between the cities? Does it make any intermediate stops?

Another advantage of Greyhound, express service (although they have the frequency to allow it).
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Steve4031

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Aug 27, 2002
Messages
6,024
Location
Chicago
Iirc the limo liner prices were competitive. There was a post on one of the railfan sights with a newspaper article comparing the two companies.
 

RPC

Service Attendant
Joined
May 29, 2015
Messages
226
One minor point: my wife can't ride an intercity bus - the air suspension makes her nauseous. She has no problems with school busses or transit busses, thank goodness.
 

railiner

Conductor
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
9,384
Location
Palm Beach County
One minor point: my wife can't ride an intercity bus - the air suspension makes her nauseous. She has no problems with school busses or transit busses, thank goodness.
Transit buses and even some school buses also have air suspension...
 

jamess

Train Attendant
Joined
Apr 23, 2017
Messages
69
In some cases bus companies fill in gaps where Amtrak leaves a void.

We have a private operator LimoLiner that runs between Boston and New York. There busses have wide seats and they provide snacks.

I use them to return on weekends when Evening Acela service from NYP is lite.

Ken
LimoLiner sounds expensive. Is it more expensive than NER trains between the cities? Does it make any intermediate stops?

Another advantage of Greyhound, express service (although they have the frequency to allow it).
Limoliner is always $99 each way, so more expensive than an advance Regional, but cheaper than Acela. It goes express between NYC and Boston.

Off peak, it does the trip in 4.5 hours, so 1 hour slower than Acela.

Its 2-1 seating, meal and drinks included, and theres an attendant on board. Power and wifi of course.

This kind of "luxury" bus service is common in Latin America.
 

LookingGlassTie

OBS Chief
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Messages
556
Location
Portsmouth, VA
I've ridden both Amtrak and Greyhound. In each case, my transportation choice was based on the needs of my trip.

I took GH from Norfolk, VA to Salisbury, MD. There is no Amtrak route between those two points. Of course, I didn't check to see whether Amtrak even had a route going that way; I just assumed that riding the bus would be easier. It was a two-hour trip.

I took Amtrak from Norfolk to Washington, DC. That made more sense because it was a longer trip (I don't think I would have been comfortable on a bus for 4 1/2 hours). Yes, GH does serve Union Station, but taking the train was easier in that instance.

So at this point I can't say that one is better than the other overall. Each has its pros and cons, and it really comes down to what your travel needs/wants are.
 

Chessie

Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 23, 2016
Messages
160
Yes, on coaches operated under the flagship banner. Wi-Fi, too (subject to normal service interruptions). Both for several years now.
Have to admit the availability of Internet connection can make or break a trip for me and many. Think I would enjoy cruising more and hate flying less if wifi connections were better on ships or planes. Hopefully we will get to that point in near future.
Nowadays cell phone data reception is usually pretty decent along interstate highways that intercity busses use, but maybe not quite yet for rails. Someday. :)

One minor point: my wife can't ride an intercity bus - the air suspension makes her nauseous. She has no problems with school busses or transit busses, thank goodness.
I have also noticed car sickness, air sickness and sea sickness are much more common than train sickness. Thankfully.
To my knowledge, Greyhound has not operated any thru service between Pittsburgh and Boston (or Framingham)...a transfer would have to be made at New York City.
Ah, thank you for the clarification. I was hoping people who have more knowledge would chime in.
Honestly don't remember doing a transfer, but then the more I think about it the more I can't imagine how or why Greyhound would do a through bus between Pittsburgh and Boston, unless it was part of a long cross country bus route, which it wasn't. Most likely I did do a transfer at some point but forgot.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

MARC Rider

Conductor
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
3,011
Location
Baltimore. MD
I once scoped out a Washington to Ann Arbor trip via the Dog. As I recall it involved changes of buses in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Toledo, and Detroit. Some of the changes were at, shall we say, inconvenient times of day. The equivalent Amtrak trip involves only one transfer to a Thruway bus in Toledo, and that happens at wake up time in the morning, so sleep is possible.
 

railiner

Conductor
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
9,384
Location
Palm Beach County
Going back to its 'glory days', in the 50's and '60's, Greyhound Lines operated an incredible variety of coast-to-coast, and border-to-border, thru buses over its own lines, and in pools with other carrier's. Back then it is entirely possible GL ran a Boston to St. Louis (or beyond) thru bus via Pittsburgh...
 

railiner

Conductor
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
9,384
Location
Palm Beach County
I once scoped out a Washington to Ann Arbor trip via the Dog. As I recall it involved changes of buses in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Toledo, and Detroit. Some of the changes were at, shall we say, inconvenient times of day. The equivalent Amtrak trip involves only one transfer to a Thruway bus in Toledo, and that happens at wake up time in the morning, so sleep is possible.
There is a thru bus from Washington to Detroit, but sometimes you can make a faster trip with more than one change... depends on what time of day you depart...
 

Don Newcomb

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 8, 2008
Messages
287
MagaBus is in the middle... The no station thing is interesting,
What Greyhound has for "stations" these days, you might as well not have a station. Most places (smaller cities) it's just a gas station near the Interstate. It may or may not be served by the city's bus system.
 

railiner

Conductor
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
9,384
Location
Palm Beach County
MagaBus is in the middle... The no station thing is interesting,
What Greyhound has for "stations" these days, you might as well not have a station. Most places (smaller cities) it's just a gas station near the Interstate. It may or may not be served by the city's bus system.
I agree that the quality and sometimes the location of many of the current agency station's are not that great...at least you have shelter, restrooms ,and maybe snacks available, while you wait. Better than standing curbside in the elements waiting...
 

FormerOBS

Conductor
Joined
Feb 26, 2014
Messages
1,272
Location
Maryland, but a native of Ohio
As a resident of Hagerstown, I find Greyhound to be totally irrelevant. This is not because it must be, but because the Company has made it so.

When I moved here in the early 1990's, Greyhound had a couple runs a day that ran West from Washington to Pittsburgh, stopping at Frederick and Hagerstown. Connections could be made for points West. I used the service sometimes. I believe there was also service to Baltimore and possibly other locations at that time. The downtown Hagerstown station was eliminated in favor of a small building behind McDonald's near the Interstate. This wasn't great, but it allowed the buses to get off and on the Interstate quickly, saving time. Even though Hagerstown is located at the junction of Interstates I-70 and I-81, I am not aware of any Greyhound schedules on Route 81 in my time here.

Now, Hagerstown has stopped serving Hagerstown at all. Last time I tried to get information on any nearby Greyhound service, I found their online information maddeningly incomplete and user unfriendly. If there is any advertising, I haven't seen it.

Sensible bus routings and schedules could provide East-West service from Baltimore and Washington to Frederick, Hagerstown, Cumberland, Wheeling, Columbus, Indianapolis and St. Louis, as well as routings to Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Toledo, and Chicago. This would logically connect with service along I-81 from Roanoke (or even Knoxville or Atlanta), up the Shenandoah Valley to Hagerstown and beyond to Harrisburg and points North such as Buffalo, Albany, Scranton, etc. Connection for New York could logically be made at Harrisburg.

Obviously, the private automobile has eaten into Greyhound's market significantly. But I can't help but think the answer lies in better schedules and connections, more routes, and more communities served.

If you want to get the patronage, you have to go after it. I don't see Greyhound doing that at all. At least not in any way that is useful to me.

It's true that Amtrak doesn't serve Hagerstown directly either, but the Capitol Limited does stop in Martinsburg, only 25 miles from my house by Interstate.

Best bus trip I ever took was on Badger Bus Lines in the 1970's, Milwaukee to Green Bay, on a deluxe bus with a service attendant. I checked today & see that Badger only offers service between Milwaukee and Madison now. Worst bus trip was from Sacramento to Chicago on Greyhound in the 1980's.. Almost all of the meal stops were at Burger King. It was several years before I could stand the thought of another Whopper.

Tom
 
Last edited by a moderator:

NYP

Joined
Jan 29, 2014
Messages
9
I've ridden both Amtrak and Greyhound. In each case, my transportation choice was based on the needs of my trip.

I took GH from Norfolk, VA to Salisbury, MD. There is no Amtrak route between those two points. Of course, I didn't check to see whether Amtrak even had a route going that way; I just assumed that riding the bus would be easier. It was a two-hour trip.

I took Amtrak from Norfolk to Washington, DC. That made more sense because it was a longer trip (I don't think I would have been comfortable on a bus for 4 1/2 hours). Yes, GH does serve Union Station, but taking the train was easier in that instance.

So at this point I can't say that one is better than the other overall. Each has its pros and cons, and it really comes down to what your travel needs/wants are.
Amtrak does offer Norfolk (NFK) to Salisbury (SLS). Train to BWI then BayRunner shuttle to SLS. Because it is on-demand shuttle service, it must be booked a few days in advance.
 

Lonestar648

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
May 17, 2015
Messages
2,793
Long Distance by bus between major cities may be a couple hours shorter, but the bus you start with will change en route either by transfer or regular change for service (layover though on same route number). These changes require you to get off with all your things even on a route like Los Angeles to Chicago. Thus a major advantage to Amtrak between many major cities.
 

railiner

Conductor
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
9,384
Location
Palm Beach County
As a resident of Hagerstown, I find Greyhound to be totally irrelevant. This is not because it must be, but because the Company has made it so.

When I moved here in the early 1990's, Greyhound had a couple runs a day that ran West from Washington to Pittsburgh, stopping at Frederick and Hagerstown. Connections could be made for points West. I used the service sometimes. I believe there was also service to Baltimore and possibly other locations at that time. The downtown Hagerstown station was eliminated in favor of a small building behind McDonald's near the Interstate. This wasn't great, but it allowed the buses to get off and on the Interstate quickly, saving time. Even though Hagerstown is located at the junction of Interstates I-70 and I-81, I am not aware of any Greyhound schedules on Route 81 in my time here.

Now, Hagerstown has stopped serving Hagerstown at all. Last time I tried to get information on any nearby Greyhound service, I found their online information maddeningly incomplete and user unfriendly. If there is any advertising, I haven't seen it.

Sensible bus routings and schedules could provide East-West service from Baltimore and Washington to Frederick, Hagerstown, Cumberland, Wheeling, Columbus, Indianapolis and St. Louis, as well as routings to Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Toledo, and Chicago. This would logically connect with service along I-81 from Roanoke (or even Knoxville or Atlanta), up the Shenandoah Valley to Hagerstown and beyond to Harrisburg and points North such as Buffalo, Albany, Scranton, etc. Connection for New York could logically be made at Harrisburg.

Obviously, the private automobile has eaten into Greyhound's market significantly. But I can't help but think the answer lies in better schedules and connections, more routes, and more communities served.

If you want to get the patronage, you have to go after it. I don't see Greyhound doing that at all. At least not in any way that is useful to me.

It's true that Amtrak doesn't serve Hagerstown directly either, but the Capitol Limited does stop in Martinsburg, only 25 miles from my house by Interstate.

Best bus trip I ever took was on Badger Bus Lines in the 1970's, Milwaukee to Green Bay, on a deluxe bus with a service attendant. I checked today & see that Badger only offers service between Milwaukee and Madison now. Worst bus trip was from Sacramento to Chicago on Greyhound in the 1980's.. Almost all of the meal stops were at Burger King. It was several years before I could stand the thought of another Whopper.

Tom
If I could show you one of my timetables from the 50's and 60's, you would be amazed at what Greyhound once operated thru Hagerstown....locals and expresses to/from Baltimore, Washington, and Pittsburgh...locals up to Harrisburg and down to Winchester, and beyond, around the clock. The old downtown station you recall, with its multiple loading bays, gave a hint of what once was, going back to the pre-Greyhound, Blue Ridge days.

Greyhound does sell interline tickets on this carrier, with limited service to Hagerstown... http://www.bayrunnershuttle.com/west/rates_schedules.asp

As for the deluxe bus you rode from Milwaukee to Green Bay...are you sure it wasn't operated by Wisconsin-Michigan Coaches?

The "Burger King" era at Greyhound occurred when former Greyhound Food Service president John Teets got the bright idea to try converting a Greyhound Post House restaurant at some terminal to a fast-food operation, in an effort to draw customer's from surrounding office buildings to have lunch there. Typically, only bus passenger's would ever eat at the Post House cafeteria's. The trial proved to be a resounding success, and soon the entire Post House chain was converted to either Burger King or Hardee's fast food outlets.

As a result of that success, John Teets eventually was elevated to CEO of the entire Greyhound Corporation.
 

FormerOBS

Conductor
Joined
Feb 26, 2014
Messages
1,272
Location
Maryland, but a native of Ohio
Yes, I recently heard about the Bayrunner for the first time, but didn't know it was affiliated with Greyhound. I don't know when I might need the service, but will keep it in mind. There was a time in my life when I might have used it fairly frequently, but not so much now. However, I am sure the market is viable.

I thought the Milwaukee - Green Bay service was Badger, but it's been many years ago and I guess I could be mistaken. I do remember the piped-in music: Neil Diamond.

Interesting that Mr. Teets got a promotion out of that Burger King deal. He ensured that I would avoid Greyhound AND Burger King at all costs for several years. If that deserves a promotion, then I guess I just don't understand how the world works.

Tom
 

railiner

Conductor
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
9,384
Location
Palm Beach County
Well, he turned out to be a poor shadow of his predecessor, Gerald Trautman, under who's stewardship, The Greyhound Corporation rose to about number 27 ranking, on the Fortune 500.

Aside from the great financial results of converting the Post House chain, the Corporation began a great downhill slide under his administration, culminating in the eventual breakup of same...
 
Top