Bus Travel, Canada - USA
All about Greyhound's cheapest fares & alternatives
Above: When Greyhound racing was very popular in the United States early in the 20th Century, Greyhound chose its name.
Currently neither Greyhound Canada nor Greyhound USA offer system passes.
You must choose between higher refundable fares or cheaper nonrefundable ones (whose dates can be changed for a modest fee).
Booking online saves you money. You can book via phone, but that costs $15.00 (as of July 2019). You save far more than that when booking online.
Canada and Greyhound USA offer specials at times. Join Greyhound USA's "Road Rewards programme and receive emails regarding these. Also, find these on Greyhound Canada' site. I have seen specials with as much as 50 percent off with advanced purchase in Canada.
Cheaper fares tend to come for Tuesday and Wednesday travel. In any case, Greyhound quotes you fares over a period of days to make your choice easier. Greyhound USA also offers special fares for seniors, Student Advantage and Veterans Advantage members, etc. Be sure to check for these on both sites.
Greyhound tickets do not allow stopovers. That can become a huge disadvantage on long trips. If you break journey you will usually pay more.
On the other hand, Greyhound's huge advantage is that it takes you to far more places than any other form of public transportation in North America.
There are alternatives to Greyhound
Bolt, Flixbus, and Megabus
The following offer regional services, and have become very popular with younger people.
Boltbus – Boston - New York City and points between + Portland and Eugene Oregon to Vancouver B.C.
Fiixbus has recently introduced service in California plus from there to Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tucson.
Megabus Extensive service in the northeastern USA, plus to Montreal and Toronto + California, Florida, Texas, New Orleans, and elsewhere. Check both Canadian and USA schedules in link.
By far Amtrak's best value is its California Rail Pass. This may be the most incredible value in USA transportation. Check the link for details. Currently, $159 gives you nearly every region in the state.
In addition, Amtrak offers three national passes, with these fares for adults >
15 days, 8 segments, $459,
30 days, 12 segments, $689, and
45 days, 18 segments, 899.
With discounts for children 2 - 12.
Use your segments wisely. Travelling Chicago to San Francisco takes two segments. However, that second segment is merely an Amtrak bus from across San Francisco Bay. Use public transportation instead.
Amtrak posts deals on its website weekly. Also check for special fares for seniors, etc.
Via Rail Canada passes and fare deals
Via Rail Canada offers several adult passes and a youth pass. One of these may be perfect for you. It also posts special deals on its website.
Note that Via Rail service from Vancouver to Toronto (it's best to take it eastbound if you have a choice) can become amazingly late due to freight rail congestion on the host railways and winter weather. The record lateness in 2018 was 48 hours. Via's other routes do not have this reputation.
Especially in the U.S. advanced booking airline fares on competitive routes can undercut Greyhound's. Consider using these for the portions of your trip that offer little variation of scenery, e.g., Chicago to Denver.
In the U.S. if Southwest Airlines flies a route that usually means competitive airfares. That does not always mean Southwest is cheaper, though.
Above: Several Greyhound commercials from the early 1960s. The second one features Grocho Marx.