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  • the people you come across...sometimes!!
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      17.09.2012 23:26

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      Worst company ever

      Three months back I bought a ticket with my friend to go with greyhound from Toronto to Niagara falls and coming back at night on the same day, we went to the bus terminal before the time and we were on the line waiting and suddenly the dispatcher closed the door and told us that the bus has already 22 passenger with 23 seat left, we were 30 on the line, but me and my friends were maybe 7 or 8'th on the line so it should be fine, then the man start asking about people going to USA and pulled them from the line and when we asked he said if he won't accommodate us he will bring another bus, to make it short after all of this he left us without anything and with one choice only which is either waiting for the next one which is after 2 hours or go home, if we agree to go with the next bus it will be so short in Niagara so we decided to ask for refund, on aug they sent me letter says that the refund rules don't go with my situation and I have to have medical reason for not going or death case in close relative and the lady who read the letter I guess she figured out that my situation doesn't apply, and as she is so so nice she offered me voucher for the money, and of course I didn't accept that as it wasnt my fault that their dispatcher stopped us from getting to the bus, and I called to ask for somebody to speak with, that was happened on 21 Aug, they told me somebody will talk to me within 48-72 hours, and I am still waiting somebody to call, I called them so many time and they keep appologising and resend another request for the supervisor to call me. Anyway it's now 17 Sep and still waiting their call. With the previous experience I know that this company is nothing but bad but I just wanna talk to this supervisor not to ask for money but to ask why he didn't call me for this long time. I totally recommend to walk to Niagara Falls rather than going with this company. And I wish that I am in USA so I would teach this company how to respect the customers by dragging the supervisor to court but unfortunately in Canada if you go to court you only loos your money and time. As they are not so tough in these cases.

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      20.06.2011 21:36

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      Apauling!

      My experiance of the Greyhound was only one of rudeness, lateness and an unorganised mess! We planned to travel from San Francisco to Washington over 4 weeks stopping at varrious places along the way. The Greyhound appeared to be the cheepest and easiest way of doing this. We purchased a Discovery Pass giving us unlimited use of their service for 30 day's. This seemed ideally suited to our journey (although there were not really any alternatives). We have made it as far as Minneapolis over four trips and not one of them has been on time. Never is an appology or explanation given when this happens. The process of checking in and getting on the bus is completely different at every stop and is never clear. The Discovery Pass seems to add to the confusion; it is as if the Greyhound staff dont understand what it is. We were even stopped form getting on one bus because our pass doesnt cover it. Nowhere were we told this and when we asked for terms and conditions noone could help. Alot of the stations are miles out of town and have very poor links to other froms of transport. They are dirty and poorly serviced. I have used public transport in many countries, some in the develping world, I expected travel in the US to be east in comparison, I was very wrong. How can Angkor Express (a long distance bus company in Cambodia) provide a much better service. I was only ever late by half an hour at most (understandable in such a desperatly poor country with awful roads). I would urge anyone to find an alternative to using such a poor service of possible (which is easier said than done). A rich country like the USA should be ashamed of it's lack of transport options for tourists, it would put me off traveling here in the future.

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      14.01.2011 08:19

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      Awful

      LA to Palm Springs: Possibly the worst travel experience I've ever had. Rude staff, 2 1/2 hours late, dropped off 4 miles from destinations due to floods they were not prepared to drive a longer route round. A true 3rd world experience, all that was missing were the baskets of chickens. I had a sealed packed and wrapped a christmas gift of a good quality bottle of Rum which they tried to "confiscate" (not asked me to remove or leave behind but "take" from me). This had travelled from Sydney OK on an airline, but sealed and checked was still against their ridiculous guidelines which include being unable to take anything pointy if its similar to a knife but no problem with pointy things like arrows or sharp things like saws. Even so the attitude was atrocious with minimum wage pesonnel given power which they relished using at every twist and turn. This was horrific in all aspects and pales behind Greyhound in Australia which is a pleasant friendly enjoyable way to get about: America is in trouble when its so difficult to do even the easy things. A star only because that is needed to post.......

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      13.01.2010 16:50

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      Not too bad considering the price

      Now then, the greyhound. Where do i start? I travelled on the greyhound for a little road trip me and my buddies had while i was living in the states. We travelled from Reno - San Fran - Portland - Seattle - Salt Lake - Reno. What an experience for 3 lads at the age of 21!!! We booked the tickets over 30 days in adavnce so we if your planning on using the greyhound try and do what we did because we got it really really cheap. Also book with a friend because thats another discount ontop. Price wise i cant remember the exact cost because we had hostel costs ontop of that but altogether it worked out at about $372. We met crazy, strange people on there talking about what they did when they got out of prison and what not, but also we met some pretty nice people too. We travelled throught the night a couple of times and it isnt the best of ideas if your a light sleeper because its murder to sleep on them and very uncomfortable.

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      01.01.2010 00:56
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      Avoid if you can.

      I travelled from San Bernadino to Sacramento in California, via Los Angeles in November 2009. When I tried to prebook my ticket online it wouldn't accept my Maestro card. It wanted to charge me a $18 (£12) premium to get somebody that wasn't travelling, so I had to pay about $11 (£6.60) more and buy it from the station at a cost of $80 (£48). I was a bit shocked when I saw the station in San Bernadino as it looked dodgy and was in a very ghetto area. As a young female, I would not have felt safe had I been on my own. The journey to LA left 30 minutes late (9pm) but I still had plenty of time to catch the bus to Sacramento which was scheduled to depart at 10.30pm. (The staff in LA gave the wrong bay number to me when I was looking for it). It left about 20 minutes late and as I was about to board, I was told the bus was full. I said that I had paid for this route and he told me I had paid for the journey rather than that particular departure time. When I informed him I would probably miss my plane he said 'sorry' in an unsympathetic tone. I had picked that coach because it ws scheduled to arrive at 5.45am leaving me aple time to make my midday flight. Had I known that they overbook, I would have travelled earlier but there was no indication that my journey was not guaranteed. The LA station seemed pretty safe as there were a lot of people, even though I didn't leave until about 2.40am. The seats were very uncomfortable and I woke up sporadically (which is unlike me). I eventually arrived at Sacramento at 10.50 and somehow made it to the airport, no thanks to Greyhound.

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        10.08.2009 10:40
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        An Honest and Rather Glowing Review of the Greyhound Buses in the USA

        Okay so I know that a LOT of people hate the Greyhound Bus...I personally love it, so this is pretty much going to be a glowing review!! The longest Journey that I've taken has been from New York City to Atlanta, Georgia - Took about 23 hours and I loved every single second of it. In terms of Cost it probably is the most cost effective way to Travel in the USA but probably not the most time-effective - So basically if you have the time to spare then I would definitely recommend it. They are just normal Coaches that you might find in the UK (think National Express). If you're tall and rather large (like myself) then you might struggle with regards to leg room but apart from that they are very comfortable. Sometimes you get a really nice Driver that is happy to chat while everyone else is asleep and if you're on a long journey and you can't sleep then that is worthwhile!! I have found that the Greyhound Bus Stations tend to be in the worst parts of Town - So when you get off the Bus for a rest-stop or to change Coaches then I wouldn't venture too far out of the Station. The Coach Stations tend to have Vending Machines, Toilets, Phones, Places to get Hot Food and sometimes you can also get little shops to buy other bits and pieces. For me the best part of using the Greyhound is being woken up in the middle of the night to change buses - I'm not being sarcastic!! I just love arriving in a small town in the middle of the night and wondering what I'm going to find, it appeals to my sense of adventure!! The people on board the Greyhound Coaches tend to be varied - I have travelled with elderly people and US Marines...you can't really get more different than that!! God help you if you're travelling with a noisy baby...I'm afraid all you can do at that point is plug your ears with a CD Player and try to tune out the noise!! All in all I would recommend the Greyhound time and time again - I Love It!!

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        26.05.2009 19:45
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        Good if you're on a budget, have a good mp3 player and are relatively tolerant!

        The first Greyhound I ever caught was from New York City to Marion, Virginia, at the tender age of 19. As a female travelling on her own, it was certainly an experience...! The Greyhound is the National Express of the USA, apart from without the comfort and with plenty of interesting characters. It's ridiculously cheap, with a NYC - San Francisco bus ticket available for just $99 if you book a few weeks in advance. Of course, it takes 4 days, and it's likely at least one axle will fall off before you leave New Jersey, but for that money you can just laugh it off. Since my first experience, I've taken Greyhounds all over the USA. It really isn't the most comfy way to travel, and Amtrak (train) is the preferred option. However, there are limited Amtrak stops whereas Greyhounds will stop in relatively unknown towns. If you're setting off into the unknown, it's worth checking where the stop is, as with the more obscure towns, it may be in a service station just off the interstate, making getting into the town centre pretty tricky. The most interesting ride I've had involved sitting next to a huge guy from Harlem, who wrote me a rap about how I executed my boyfriend in the back of the head for cheating on me while I was pregnant. Yep, you have been warned. The bus stops every 4 hours or so, usually at fast food outlets, so take fruit or your own food if you fancy a change from this! If you're on a quiet bus, taking the back seat means you can lie down, but you do have to sit next to the toilet which could prove an interesting experience. Make sure how long the breaks are before getting off the bus - they will leave without you. Some stations are a bit dodgy after night - Washington DC and Philadelphia are the ones I've been warned about. Greyhound buses also go into Canada. A 30 day discovery pass, allowing you to catch any bus in the USA or Canada within 30 days, costs $399, which is a bargain if you have lots of travel planned. But remember the earplugs.

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          10.05.2009 21:39
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          While being in another country it is always a good idea to find out about the different travel methods, as you never know when you might need to use them. I had first heard of the Greyhound buses through watching American TV shows as they sometimes mention it but it had never really meant a lot to me. It wasn't until I was travelling the west coast of North America that I came across the idea that I needed to get places and do it cheap as well which is when I googled Greyhound. To sum them up they are basically like the North American version of Megabus, cheap travel and an okish service. I first ordered with them through the website because it was easier to do, they do travel through Canada and America and I was booking a journey from Vancouver to Whistler which is roughly about an hour and a half. It is best to book in advance as you will get a much better deal, it only cost $25 for the journey which was a return and I thought that was really cheap. It depends how long distance you want to go as you can literally go from Los Angeles all the way to New York but it depends if you like bus travel or not. I can only do short distance as I get a bit restless. The next journey I booked was done by phone that was Los Angeles to San Diego as I couldn't have my payment go through since the address I wanted the tickets sent to didn't match my UK address. They accept most payment methods. By phone the name didn't come out right on my ticket as the woman obviously got confused by my accent but the ticket still came through and again this was a couple of hours this journey but was only about $17.50 which was a bargain if you think of the conversion rates. On both bookings I decided to just collect my tickets at the Greyhound bus stations before going as their cities are a lot bigger than us and it was a lot of hassle to get them otherwise. It was easy enough just collecting them from the ticket desk as they were always there each time. My only problem with Greyhound which seemed to be a recurring pattern was that most of the departing stations were not exactly in the safest of places. In Vancouver it was very out of the way in a part I had never come across but didn't like being in at night. Then in LA it was Downtown LA where the station was and this was a very dodgy part of town, rough with a lot of people hanging around waiting for calls at phone boxes and that kind of thing. I got a lot of comments made when here and again I was not too happy with the area. In Whistler it was fine but that is a well off place anyway and in San Diego it was central but was easy to find. The interior of the Greyhound buses was fine, the people using the buses were mainly travellers and every day people wanting to get to places but some were a bit strange. There were times when I got newer buses then times when they weren't as new but all were still very clean and the comfort was fine. I used to sit at the front to get more leg room but they are just typical coaches really. The driver has a list as everyone gets on the bus. I found most of the time the bus left on time usually which is good and they would always make a few stops on the way which is normal really. On my trip to Whistler, I arrived on time both ways but we didn't have a lot to do there so got on the earlier bus and the driver didn't say anything which was good as otherwise it would have been a 2 hour wait on the next bus. If it was a busier time though I doubt we would have been allowed on the earlier bus. On the way back from San Diego was my worst experience as there were too many booked onto the same bus and it arrived to the station late as well. People were getting aggressive because some weren't being let on and were being told to wait for another bus which would be coming soon. Luckily once people who weren't booked on that exact bus were taken off the problem was sorted. With the Greyhound buses overall service, I would certainly use them again as for the price they were very good and I got to see a lot of places thanks to them otherwise it would have cost too much. They were comfortable and usually got places at the right time as I said my only issue was where the stations were as some were just not that nice. The website is definitely easy to use and if you are going away this summer as a lot of students and people in general seem to do then you should have a look at day trips or journeys on this to check out the prices. They usually do a few trips a day to some locations and the times they do are normally quite good as well. There are separate sites for the Canadian and American Greyhounds but both run the exact same service, except obviously fewer routes run from Canada. The main American website can be found at http://www.greyhound.com . There are station locators on here so that you find your departure and arrival stations fine as this can be difficult if you are not from a certain city. There are also some online discounts if you book in advance or if you want to purchase priority seating. They do Road Rewards as well for frequent travellers giving passes, discounts and free journeys to people using the service regularly. There is a contact section also if you need to make complaints or even just general enquiries. There is also now a Mexican Greyhound website too.

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            02.07.2002 23:54
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            • "the people you come across...sometimes!!"

            I have always been fascinated by America: enormous cities, vast expanses of natural beauty and mile after mile of road stretching out into the distance, unexplored and inviting. It was something I just had to see - and when a friend invited me to spend six weeks travelling from east to west in the summer of 1999, I jumped at the chance. Greyhound buses seemed the obvious mode of transport. A 45-day Ameripass - which allows you to travel anywhere on Greyhound in the USA - cost £225 in 1999 and will set you back around £260 these days. I think it's better value and more flexible than Amtrak (a national train pass is £242, but it only lasts 30 days) - and anyway, there was something romantic about seeing the States by road as opposed to rail. As I got off the plane with the ticket in my hand I felt a surge of excitement: America was suddenly enormous, and the possibilities seemingly endless. I still have great memories from that trip - which is why I'm writing about it three years on. Hopefully someone will find my experiences useful; I've split this opinion into sections to make it a bit more readable. 1. THE ROUTE On the back of the Ameripass is a route map and this formed the basis for any "planning" we did. We weren't rigid when we thought about how we'd get across the country. Instead, we picked six or seven cities as cornerstones and then made the rest up as we went along, picking up flyers at hostels, flicking to random pages in the Lonely Planet or going on recommendations from people we met along the way. And it worked: the best way to make the most of what the Ameripass offers is to remember how flexible it can be. The only thing we had to do was be in Los Angeles six weeks after we landed in New York - and that was easy. Getting there was the fun part... If you're curious about Canada, Greyhound offers a more expensive ticket that covers Canada and the USA. I'd only recommend this if you've a lot of time - Canada is huge, and the standard Ameripass does actually allow you to go into Canada on certain routes (we used it to visit Toronto in the east and Vancouver in the west, two fantastic - and contrasting! - cities). Our ad-hoc approach to this sort of travelling really did work. Had we planned our trip out to the very last detail we would have missed several gems that we discovered en route, and the trip just wouldn't have been the same. It's good to have a vague idea of what you want to do, of course - but letting the journey unfold of its own accord can be great fun. 2. THE BUSES Greyhound buses tend to be quite hit and miss. If you board in the middle of a long route, the bus can be quite crowded and stuffy and it might not be as clean as it was when it first embarked on its way! If you get on at the start of the route, cleanliness is usually okay - but whatever you do, don't sit too close to the toilet - you will regret it eight hours later. I found it quite difficult to sleep on the longer trips at first, but it must be an art you learn - you soon get used to it and it makes you appreciate the hostel beds when you eventually get to your destination! Some of the buses definitely have more comfortable seats than others - but generally they're okay, and while it's not exactly luxury travel, the legroom isn't too bad (I'm fairly tall). 3. THE DRIVERS A bit like our Tube drivers - every once in a while, you get a real character. I can't remember where we were going, but one of our drivers clearly had aspirations elsewhere and made an otherwise tiring trip seem like some sort of magical mystery tour - others, however, were rather more surly. The luck of the draw, I guess! 4. THE BUS DEPOTS Mmm. Not the greatest. Greyhound depots are sometimes in remote parts of town and can also be quite dull if you've got a long wait. You often meet interesting people in queues, though - and I will always remember the man in the little station at Santa Cruz, who made two hours fly by with an in-depth discussion about the book I was reading at the time. I'm still not sure why he was working there and not in the local bookstore... A word of warning, though - if you're at a depot to catch a connection and your luggage is going from one bus to another, watch out! Baggage handlers are not always on the ball, and at Kansas City, when we were destined for Colorado, our luggage almost went the other way on the wrong bus. 5. THE PEOPLE Everyone who's been on a Greyhound bus has some story or other about the people they've met en route. Some of them are scary (an elderly man at the back of a bus in San Francisco springs to mind, waving a Gandalf-like staff and saying everyone was going to hell - and yes, they did throw him off). Some of them are funny (a drugged-up but rather harmless couple in Santa Cruz, bursting into spontaneous fits of giggles every so often for no apparent reason). And some of them are genuinely interesting people - like Lucas Schwarz, an American student we met in Salt Lake City and travelled to Seattle with, swapping addresses, books and stories on the way (we kept in touch after that summer, too). You'll see the whole spectrum of society on a Greyhound bus (well, apart from the ridiculously wealthy, perhaps). 6. THE HOSTELS There are so many hostels in America that I couldn't begin to list them all. We found some fantastic places, but one of them deserves a special mention. I think it sums up what our trip was about, because it was in a place we hadn't even intended to visit. But in Chicago, we saw a flyer for the Glenwood Springs Youth Hostel on Grand Junction in (unsurprisingly) Glenwood Springs, Colorado. It's a fantastic hostel in a beautiful town, and it ended up being our longest stay a nywhere on the trip. It's set in the heart of the Rockies - with hot springs, hiking, great bars and fantastic people. It's very popular, and it's easy to see why. I'm so glad we hadn't set out with a rigid itinerary because we would have missed Glenwood altogether otherwise. 7. THE MISHAPS Travelling by bus and staying in hostels can be unpredictable sometimes, and any trip like this is never going to be without the odd little complication. I can remember two in particular: in Idaho, our bus broke down in the middle of the night and in the middle of nowhere. I can still hear the flustered driver assuring everyone that the nearby truck stop would be "open for breakfast in less than four hours" and that the next bus was "only eight hours away". It doesn't sound like fun, but the people on the bus took it in good spirit and it's one of my favourite memories. The second mishap was in Toronto and there's probably a lesson in it somewhere. I had collected my newly tumble-dried laundry in a black bin bag and left it in my room for the day. When I returned, it was gone, and the hostel staff suggested that the cleaners "might have put it in the skip". Which they had. So there I was, close to midnight, ferreting around in a skip with a grinning tramp ferreting along with me. I'll never forget that! 8. THE TRUCKSTOPS Truckstops seem to be an American institution, but they're not as glamorous as you might expect. You don't always get a lot of choice in food (they're not like our motorway service stations at all), everything comes in Supersize and they're usually quite expensive. Despite all that, after seven hours on a bus they'll probably seem like an oasis to you - but if you are going on a long trip I'd recommend getting some decent provisions first (unless you are especially fond of bright orange Cheetos). 8. THE REST Am erica is vast and the moment you hit the road it seems even bigger. If you ever get the chance to do what I did, I'd not hesitate to recommend it. No, Greyhound isn't always perfect and you can guarantee that things won't always go exactly to plan but that's half the fun. And after watching mile after mile of the arid landscapes of Iowa whizz past the window - or the lush greenery of Washington State as you travel from Portland to Seattle ... I really do think the best way to see this diverse and exciting country is by road and I would recommend the Greyhound Ameripass to anyone. Can I go again, please ... ?

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              05.04.2001 04:09
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              Ok - 6 days travel for $99 on greyhound? Yeah i read it in the news whilst I was over there too. Well I got 4 separate passes over my 6 month trip, and travelled a total of 59634 miles on Greyhound USA and Canada, spending a total of 62 nights sleeping on the buses - not all in a row! Anyway - boast over. The facts. Greyhound USA is terrible - although they have now been bought out by Gray Lines Canada, which owns the excellent Canada Greyhound service, so maybe it'll improve. In the USA the heavies at the bus depots will happily throw your bags from the bus onto the floor, from where you have to transfer it yourself. The computer screens - where applicable - rarely work, buses get extremely crowded - with mostly the poor, the drugged and parolees travelling away to a better life. You meet the odd traveller - and spend your time swopping stories and advice. If you're ready to phone the schedule people at greyhound 30 times a day (it's free!) you can work out which buses go the local, more scenic routes, and using a bit of brain work out the quietest times to travel, and not arrive before 7am so you can get some kip in. Travel is reasonable for speed, an average of 40mph including stops and lengthy changes in major cities, as well as stops by border guards, roadblocks, etc etc. Considering i got from New York to San Francisco in 65hrs non-stop for abot 70 quid, it was infinetely cheaper than renting a car or using the train. Hmm Overall - you can have great fun and see some real out of the way places - Kermit Texas! - if you plan ahead, and the Ameripass is fantastic value if used enough, and the service will be on the up with new managament in place. So go see America!

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                04.01.2001 02:06

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                Most Americans have a car, if you don't and you need to go cross country then Greyhound is where you will find them.Sadly most big city stations are in bad areas with lots of sallies hanging around up to no good and a general feel of desperation to the stations as most of the users are the poor or stupid,boy are there a lott of stupid Americans out there. When I was travelling out there last on the East coast the girl I was travelling and seeing had her bag stolen with everything in it including her Greyhound Ameripass valued for three months.We phoned to get the various documents and passes replaced , under no circumstances would Greyhound replace that ticket ,refund that ticket or at the very least block it from anyone else using it.Full Stop.Meaning you have to shell out another $150 for another one.Not very helpful when your on a budget. The journeys themselves are not as sexy as that old Wrigley's chewing gum advert and you are often stuck next to someone yucky or tedious punter. Being a seasoned pro at bus travel on five continents there are ways of getting your own seat.Never try and sit next to crumpet guys as most of the time she can flash her eye lids at the driver and suddenly she has a single seat to stretch out on and you are next to the person no one wants to sit next to. Keep an eye on your luggage going on and off the bus as stuff occasionally goes walkies and that means major hassles and missed connections.Oh they don't like you to take food and drink on the bus which is vital to survive the dreaded 20 hour plus trips who's drivers try to keep the schedules so only stop the requisite number of times on their dockets.If your rolling across the desert ones mouth can get very dry and thirsty so smuggle something on and keep your head down.Oh the buses can be very cold to as your circulation is labored so bring an extra sweater and pack the jeans in the hand luggage. If your near the Mexican border the buses are raidedregularly andy our papers must be up to date including the temporary green card or your taken off and locked up especially if you have a big Mexican hat on(Sombrero). Florida services are also raided by narcotics officers all the time so DON'T CARRY WEED or you will be in deep s*********t .I was working in Miami beach at a hostel where a lott of dope was being smoked. On the bus up to Orlando the dogs were all over my bags and I feared the worst even though I don't touch the stuff.After a nervous minute or so and some accusing looks from the MATC (Miami Alcohol and Tobacco agents)the dog emerged with my biscuits.Everyone cracked up. As far as the service goes its not too bad and all good travelerso the buses are a hassle and its all part of the experience.The train alternative is cost affective and more comfy but you have to book in advance by 87 to 10 days ,who knows how things will be in a weeks time.Not practical. There are four day passes on Greyhound for as much as you can travel in that time period.Also two weekers and three month versions etc.When we were they were doing a $99 dollar special across America trip that took six days.With no sleep overs,owwwwwwwwwwwwwww. Its a great experience and the buses are the coolest as the desert sun reflects of the metallic silver streaks.A very American experience and an essential part of budget travel. One more thing,its buckets cheaper to buy tickets here before you head out although you must stick to your chosen travel as extras are incurred for over runs.

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                08.10.2000 22:45
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                Recently while travelling around Florida, I was forced(through lack of drivers licence and money) to travel via Greyhound. It makes the national express seem like luxury by comparison. For a start, all greyhound stations are in inaccessable regions of town, meaning you inevitably have to add taxi fares to your cost to get to a hotel or hostel. Secondly, its not that cheap. Student cards or senior citizen cards will get you 10%, but Orlando to Miami runs at about 40 dollars. Here is my big example of one of my experiences of Greyhound. I was travelling from Miami, where I'd been staying on South Beach, to Orlando International Airport. My ticket cost me (off-peak, student discount) about $33 (in american dollars). It cost $11 just to get to the station (for a bus I would have to change at least once, and you try doing that with two bags) From Ft Lauderdale to Orlando, I had a man sitting next to me who took up too much space and snored. Our one stop was at a fast food joint. I got to the orlando station and found that a taxi to the airport would cost $30. Not wanting to pay that much, I had to cross the street, get on a bus (at about 6.30 am), go downtown, change again, and get to the airport, at which point I lugged my bags to the check in counter and collapsed into a seat. It's slow (a one hour car journey becomes three hours on greyhound), its dirty, its unreliable, and its expensive for what it is. Sigh. End rant.

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                  09.09.2000 15:32
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                  A fan travels Greyhound to see North America, with the excuse of following the World Cup. A sporting event can often provide the spark that lights up paper plans to travel; especially if it is played out across the map, in a selection of venues, over something like 30 days. The fan who travels to America for the World Cup has to cover a great distance, at least once in the opening qualifying group. Those who have the money can fly, although they see little else of the country, while the more adventurous trickle around on Amtrak and Greyhound. A real fan of football wishes to be there for the whole month. With a 30 day Greyhound pass, it is tempting to roam around the country covering at least one game in all the nine cities. • The Planning: You plan, and re-plan it all, and see that it is indeed a possibility. The opening game is in Chicago, and the next day you have to be in Detroit..... It means an eight-hour night bus, to get there for a morning kick-off. Opening round games can then be seen in Washington, Boston and New York over the following five days. It would be a struggle to get from there to Orlando in two days, but there is an option in six. Four days later you can catch a second round match in Dallas, and then take your time to reach San Francisco's quarter-final contest the following week. There is to be some rest on the beach, before seeing a semi-final staged in Los Angeles. You are at the Rose Bowl, watching two of the four best teams in the world; knowing full well that you could probably never afford the asking price for the final, in the same stadium, after all the ground you've covered. It would be possible, but too much time is spent on one Greyhound bus or another, and little of the country is seen, except for soccer stadiums offering hamburgers, cokes and expensive merchandise; bus-station lockers, if they work; and the moving hands of time that push you on. One missed connection in the early stages, and it could all fall apart; the project pointless. England are not even in the competition, and are you such a fan that you would pay to watch 90 minutes of Mexico v's Norway, or Morocco v's Holland; both Europeans, there at the expense of your country? So a more leisurely option is chosen.... It is too early to spend all your money in the clothing houses of Chicago, and not too exciting to prost with the Deutsch. It's almost an impossibility to taste the Manhattan cocktail, with thousands of resident Irish and Italians in and around New Jersey. And it will hardly be a tea-party in Boston, where the hand of God is to give it a stir. So that determines the dome of Detroit as the first destination to draw your attention for the qualifying round. • First Impressions: Greyhound travel may have lost some of its glamour. The cutback in services after a lengthy drivers strike can mean overcrowding and disappointed travellers missing connections; if they were lucky enough to be near the front of a sweaty line to begin with. Baggage is tagged to the final destination, but will it be on the same bus as you when you arrive; jaded, with smelly feet and a horrible taste in your mouth? At Boston International Airport, waiting for a connection on North West Airlines, you hear a steady flow of apologies: an aircraft is 'delayed because of a cable being attached to a door mechanism'; then a further announcement is made and 'another plane is sought' for your aircraft, which obviously has a major problem. Cut-price airfares, and quick turnarounds of aircraft, seem to be having their toll. Further announcements say that a plane to Minneapolis, and another to Hyannis have been cancelled: 'due to mechanical problems', and you start to wonder if The Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) will regret their partnership deal within the NorthWest market. At least with its wheels on the ground, Greyhound is far from parked up. • A Greyhound Pass also allows free passage between Toronto and Detroit, and Seattle and Vancouver, so a taste of Canada is included in the grand tour of US 94. Greyhound travel in Canada suffers little from overcrowding, apart from Coast to Coast. Not so in America. If you turn up at night, and expect to catch a bus out of Detroit in fifteen minutes, you will be disappointed.... FULL. Sometimes another bus is found, sometimes not. The night you try to leave for Washington, is the night there is no extra bus. A game will have to be missed! It helps if plans are flexible on the road, and with an unlimited mileage, thirty-day bus-pass, they can be. • Travel By Greyhound: From Atlanta, the overnight bus to St. Louis is crowded. The girl next to you is going all the way to Salt Lake City, and although you have to pass through Denver and Salt Lake City on the way to San Francisco, you gain more by breaking up the journey, leaving your bags in a locker and exploring the towns by day. Greyhound provides a freephone number for all timetable inquiries, and you ponder your options on the Missouri bank of the Mississippi River, under a 630ft arch that is the continent's largest monument. The sun is shining and the humidity has dropped. Nearby small crews are busy preparing a stage and setting up stalls for the three-day Fourth of July, weekend extravaganza. On the other side of you, tourists stroll by along the muddy water to take their chance on one of the paddle-boat gambling palaces. A few drinks later, in the refurbished Laclede's Landing area, and you almost miss your bus. The happy hour has started and the barmaid is always ready to offer you another; two mouthfuls away from the one you are still drinking. "Thanks, very kind of you -- especial ly if you're buying!" Sometimes she does, to keep you longer, in the knowledge that you will probably stay longer still. They do appreciate tips; plenty and often. And if you're a touch slow to part with your money, for service that might be far from good, a jar may be waved in your face. • Summary: Rather than just go to football matches, this fan chose to see the country too. I know Americans say some bad things about Greyhound, and there may be more bad than good stories, but for adventurous travellers, a 30-day Greyhound pass is a great way to see North America by staying on the ground. Buses are more frequent than Amtrak, and they go to just about everywhere. Be warned though, some of the stations are in grotty areas. I never bothered with taxis, but perhaps you should. I had some close shaves, but most of the people were harmless when they realized I was neither a threat, nor easy prey. I guess it helps that I've travelled in Africa, Asia and South America, and have stayed in worse slums than the most run-down areas of the United States, but you always need to be on your guard. Greyhound passes are available for seven days, 15 days, and 30 days. Think about what you want to do and where you want to go before you start your journey. The pass starts on the first day you use it and runs consecutively. You will only save money if you intend to go across country, and not stay in places for a week. I look at the Greyhound Pass as an ideal way to get a feel for the great diversity and expanse of the country, and think about where you want to come back to. Foreigners can buy the Ameripass abroad or at Greyhound's International Offices in New York and Los Angeles (you'll get them cheaper than the Americans). When you're on the road, call (800-231-2222) for schedule information. www.travelnotes.org

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