Travel guide for the USA

Who are the Major Bus Providers in the USA & How They Compare?

This article was updated on September 26th, 2018.

One of the biggest American icons is Greyhound. Yet, particularly in rural areas and in the heart of the US, travelers will come across other bus providers. The companies can be majorly differentiated according to the areas they serve, their target clientele, and their pricing.

BoltBus is Greyhound’s budget express city-to-city service, which competes with Megabus for the major cities on the east coast of the USA. That means, it’s possible to book trips for as low as $1 with both of the companies. In the Northeast, Peter Pan Bus Lines, who recently split from their partner, Greyhound, dominates the landscape. Trailways and Jefferson Lines are the bus companies that can majorly be found in the heart of the US as they serve routes between regional cities and rural areas. The companies accept each other’s tickets and often align their schedules, so it’s possible to smoothly switch from a Greyhound to a Trailways bus. Florida even has a premium bus provider, RedCoach, offering rides in three different classes.

Did you know that free Wi-Fi, power outlets, a restroom, air conditioning, and reclinable seats are the standard on most buses in the US? Here is a comparison of the coverage, booking options, amenities for the major providers:

Greyhound Bus

Greyhound

Known for: Its iconic logo and vast coverage.
Coverage: Over 3,800 destinations in the US that cover most of the country.
Amenities: Wi-Fi, power outlets, restrooms, air conditioning, reclinable seats.
Are tickets refundable?: No, but the date & time can be changed. A $20 fee may apply.
Boarding requirements: Printed ticket & a valid photo I.D.

New_York_Trailways

Adirondack Trailways

Known for: Their popular Montreal-NYC route and for their customer service. Clients can easily reach the company by email, phone, Facebook, Twitter and will receive a quick response.
Coverage: Serves routes between rural areas and major cities in the heart of the US (Plattsburgh, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Syracuse, Albany, New York, and in the Adirondacks, among many others).
Amenities: Reclinable seats, Wi-Fi, power outlets, restrooms on most buses, air conditioning, wheelchair lift, and extra leg room.
Are tickets refundable?: No, but the date & time can be changed. A $20 fee may apply.
Boarding requirements: Printed ticket & a valid photo I.D.

Jefferson Lines

Jefferson Lines

Known for: Being a major bus provider in the heart of the US, serving 13 states from North Dakota down to Texas.
Coverage: Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Amenities: Wi-Fi, power outlets, restrooms, air conditioning, reclinable seats.
Are tickets refundable?: No, but the date & time can be changed. A $20 fee may apply.
Boarding requirements: Printed ticket & a valid photo I.D.

 

BoltBus

BoltBus

Known for: Bolt for a buck – Greyhound’s budget, non-stop (or limited-stop) city-to-city service.
Coverage: The US’ northeast and west coasts.
Amenities: Wi-Fi, power outlets, restrooms, air conditioning, reclinable seats.
Are tickets refundable?: No, but date and time can be changed up to one day before departure. A fee of $4.50 plus price difference applies.
Boarding requirements:  Confirmation number/confirmation email (can be shown on smartphone)/electronic ticket (available through the “My Trips” section of the mobile app)/printed ticket & a valid photo I.D.

Peter Pan

Peter Pan

Known for: Its name, which was inspired by the founder’s favorite bedtime story, Peter Pan.
Coverage: Larger cities on the east coast between New Hampshire and Washington DC.
Amenities: Wi-Fi on most buses, power outlets on most buses, restrooms, air conditioning.
Are tickets refundable?: No, but date and time can be changed for a fee of $20.
Boarding requirements: Printed ticket & a valid photo I.D.

RedCoach

RedCoach

Known for: Its premium bus rides in three different classes.
Coverage: Major destinations in Florida (Miami, Orlando, Ft Lauderdale, etc).
Amenities: All Classes: High-speed Wi-Fi, power outlets, restrooms, air conditioning, lap trays. First & Business Class: Reclinable leather seats (140 degrees), footrests, LCD screens. First Class only: Snack boxes.
Are tickets refundable?: Yes, standard tickets can be refunded with a 30% service fee, while flexible tickets can be refunded without fees, both fares refundable up to three hours before departure.
Boarding requirements: To board the bus, you must provide photo identification matching all information provided during booking. Presenting a physical or electronic ticket is optional.

 

What most of the carriers have in common are their amenities: Free Wi-Fi, power outlets, a restroom, air conditioning, and reclinable seats are the standard on most buses in the USA. Also, they all offer the possibility to book online. The date and time of tickets can usually be changed against a fee. Don’t forget to print your ticket when required and always bring along a valid photo ID.

If you travel with Trailways, know that this is an association of about 60 different, regional bus companies. They are mostly recognizable through a similar logo – the Trailways logo. If booked online, the refund and exchange policy remains the same. If you book at a bus terminal, it may be different for each bus company. When changing from one provider to another along the way, fees may incur for baggage that was within the usual limits of the first provider. To see a comparison of baggage allowances, check out our article.

A trip through rural America may lead you to boarding of one of the following companies:

Search and book your bus tickets to and from the United States directly on Busbud.com