"Greyhound Bus Information" United States of America by RJ1967

United States of America Travel Guide: 289,662 reviews and 673,952 photos

Helpful hints for taking the bus

I decided that since I ride Greyhound buses several times a month, that I would try to explain some of the ins and outs of the American bus system. Hopefully if you are planning to take buses, this info will reduce the stress of figuring things out.

Where do they go?

First of all, they only cover the "lower 48" states in America - there's a seperate Greyhound system for Canada. They do go to quite a few US / Mexico border towns, but they don't cross the border into Mexico

Buying tickets:

I don't know how many stations they have all across America - thousands. You can buy any ticket for any bus route at any station. There's no such thing as a sold out trip. I've never bought a ticket at a small station (more about those later), but the large stations will accept Master Card, Visa, American Express, debit cards, cash, travelers checks, and checks - only if they are written off of a local bank and you have valid picture ID.
You can buy tickets from their web site. They must be purchased 10 days in advance and you must hve a US issued credit card and a valid US address - they mail the tickets to you. There is an additional charge of $3 for any tickets purchased online. Online purchases do not work for people outside the US

Overselling

Since there is no such thing as sold out, some routes may get over booked. For this reason its a good idea to get in line for your bus early if you can. I have never missed a bus because it didn't have room for me, however I was on a bus where they skipped a stop beacuse they were full and the driver knew no one was getting off. If someone was waiting to get on there wouldn't have been any room for them. Sometimes they will allow one or two people to stand in the aisle. The two seats directly behind the driver are off limits to passengers. They used to use these seats, but later decided not to in the name of driver safety.

Your ticket:

When you buy a ticket it will have a departure date and time on it. You don't need to concern yourself with the time. That ticket is good for any bus that runs that route that day. DO pay attention to the times if you have connections. Missing a connection can cost you delays of several hours to an entire day - depending on how often your route runs.
If you lose a ticket, go to a Greyhound station and see about getting a re-issue. I was on a bus from Las Vegas to Colorado one time when I lost the ticket for the 2nd leg of my return trip. I immediately went to the counter and told them I had lost my ticket. After they had made sure that I wasn't trying to score a free 300 mile trip, they issued me a new ticket - saving me from paying $21 for a replacement.
Another time I had bought a ticket several days in advance, but had circumstances come up where I couldn't use the ticket on the day it was good for. On my actual travel day I went to the station and asked them if I could trade the old ticket for another one good that day. I got a re-issue at no charge.

Planning the trip:

I aways use the internet to plan my trips. This way I get to pick my departure times, and sometimes my routes, transfer stations, and length of trip.
Lets say I want to go from Denver, CO to Dallas, TX. There are several buses that run this route everyday. If you take a bus that goes straight through (no connections) it takes about 18 hours. If you just want to keep things simple and go straight there, this might be for you. If you're not in the mood to sit in the same spot for ever and ever then maybe you can find a different route on their web site that offeres a stopover.

Stations:

Over the entire country the stations vary quite alot. Most big city stations are in dodgy sections of downtown. These stations offer restrooms, food, lockers, comfortable places to sit. Don't look for places to sleep though; this is discouraged because they don't want the street people comming in and "borrowing space" BTW a lot of the bigger stations are chosing to close late at night - I'm guessing it's to cut down on crime.
The small stations can be anything from restaurants to mom n pop grocery stores to motels. For these stops the buses will often just drive by and see if they see anyone. If you're inside the establishment when the bus goes by and they don't see you, you missed the bus.
If you're departing the bus at one of these small stops, the driver will know to stop because he/she keeps track of it with your ticket.

Baggage:

You are allowed to carry on two bags, as long as they fit under your seat or in the overhead compartments. You are allowed 2 checked bags. they cannot weigh more than 60lb/28kg each, or a total of 100lb/45kg combined. If they weigh too much they'll need to be shipped thru Greyhound PackageXpress. Checked bags have a size limit of 24x24x45 inches (60x60x113cm)All checked bags, boxes, etc must be marked with your name, address, phone number etc.
If you have to transfer to a different bus and you have checked bags you must claim your bags from the first bus and re-check them onto the second. Greyhound does not hold baggage like airlines do. They don't want to be responsible for lost or stolen bags.

If you get off the bus for a smoke break or a food stop I think its safe to leave your carry on bags on the bus. I've never heard of anyone having things stolen.
In any station I carry my bags with me at ALL times. there's too many people and too many bags to keep an eye on yours from afar. There's dodgy folks that will steal your bag in a heartbeat, and theres also people who may inadvertantly walk off with yours and not there's

Boarding:

When you are boarding at your origination point everybody lines up at the gate (if the station is big enough to have one, otherwise outside by the buses). There are no assigned seats, its first come first served.

Buses:

They have been getting newer, nicer buses recently. Some have TV's on them and are capable of showing movies. Most drivers elect not to show movies because people complain that they've seen em before, they're too violent for kids, they can't hear the TV's (this is true).
If you're lucky enough to have an empty seat next to you, you're more than welcomed to stretch out (well, sort of LOL). Some people bring pillows and blankets to make themselves comfortable.

Food:

All the long routes have food stops worked into their schedule. Unfortunately most of the places they stop are McDonalds, Mom N Pop Diner, and the like. You can buy snacks at some of the stations, but I really recommend bringing at least some of your own food if your on a long trip.

Safety:

This has become a bigger issue since Sept 11. If you are being unduly hassled in a station, tell a Greyhound employee; They will deal with it. (Smaller stations have little or no security, so its up to employees to deal with these problems).
If you are on a bus and observe a passenger smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol, tell the driver. These activities are prohibited; its the drivers job to deal with these problems.
If you are being physically threatened or see someone with a weapon, tell the driver. Usually these passengers are kicked off the bus at the next stop. I have seen this happen. Sometimes - if the offense is really serious - the driver will call the state police and the passenger will be put off immediately - even in the middle of nowhere. The state police will meet the bus and the passenger arrested. I've never seen this happen.

Contact Information

Web address: www.greyhound.com

Toll free phone: 1-800-231-2222

Travelers with disabilities should call the travelers assist line 48 hours before departure at: 1-800-752-4841

Other:

If you have more detailed information about anything to do with America's buses, please let me know. I'll give you credit for your information. I only ride in the rocky mountain region, so I don't know everything - yet.

If you have any questions, please ask. I may know something that I didn't include here.

My lifetime bus trips: 48
Mileage: 9,554

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Inexpensive for long trips
  • Cons:Don't do any rides over 10 hours at a time.
  • In a nutshell:An ok way to get around if you plan well
  • Last visit to United States of America: Nov 2003
  • Intro Updated Jan 9, 2008
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Reviews (2)

Comments (4)

  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo
    Aug 25, 2003 at 4:15 PM

    Wonderful, wonderful information! You are VT bus King!

  • jessicadf's Profile Photo
    Feb 7, 2003 at 10:55 PM

    RJ, you aren't just ON the bus. You KNOW the bus. Yeah!

  • craic's Profile Photo
    Jan 29, 2003 at 8:12 AM

    Excellent excellent info. Top job. But you didn't put in the stuff about they overbook etc. Also 2 tiny errors. Theres instead of theirs. And one apostrophe missing. (How picky am I!)

  • Geisha_Girl's Profile Photo
    Jan 29, 2003 at 5:34 AM

    Great information for any traveler getting "on board!" But.....ya forgot to mention the BABES, RJ, the Babes!!! ;->
    Great job!

RJ1967

“Park your car, ride a bike”

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