Tag: Bus Travel

26 ‘Chinatown Bus’ Operators Shut Down

A few years back, we posted news that the cheap and occasionally safety-challenged Chinatown buses—cult favorites among budget travelers in the Northeastern U.S.—were reportedly cleaning up their act. Turns out the effort fell short. After a year-long investigation, federal safety officials have closed down 26 carriers operating in the busy Northeast corridor—16 based in New York, and 10 in Philadelphia.

So R.I.P. Chinatown buses. But never fear, budget travelers—BoltBus is still kicking.

Wired: Public Transit is a ‘Civil Rights Issue’

Over at Autopia, Jason Kambitsis breaks it down:

[A]ccess to transportation is key to connecting the poor, seniors and those with disabilities to jobs, schools, health care and other resources. It is essential to widening opportunities for all. Many of us take our mobility for granted, but getting around can be a real challenge for millions of Americans… According to the [Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights] report, the average cost of owning a car is just shy of $9,500. That may not sound like much until you realize the federal poverty level is $22,350 for a family of four. One-third of low-income African-American households do not have access to an automobile. That figure is 25 percent among low-income Latino families and 12.1 percent for whites.

We’ve been keeping tabs on a variety of proposed high-speed rail plans over the years. The Autopia piece offers an important reminder that less-flashy investments in public transportation—from buses to bike lanes to more pedestrian-friendly streets—shouldn’t be forgotten, either.

New Budget Bus Service: Direct From U Street to Brooklyn

The new service, The Know It Express, will link Washington, D.C., and Brooklyn, NY, and cater to “young travelers looking to eschew Times Square and the National Mall for Brooklyn Flea and U Street’s indie music venues,” according to the New York Times. It’s already being dubbed the Hipster Highway or the Hipster Express thanks to its trendy start- and end-points and its “hipster-friendly amenities like bike storage, free Wi-Fi and on-board laptops riders can borrow for the trip.”

But don’t worry, cyclists—a company rep reassured this D.C.-area blogger that you don’t have to ride a fixie to get your bike on board.

The Milk Run to Mexico City

In The Smart Set, John Washington has a lovely dispatch from a bus ride between Nogales and the capital. Here’s Washington’s introduction to the vehicle where he’d spend almost two days:

The bus was set to leave Nogales at six in the evening. A few minutes past six a tall, skinny European delivery type van pulled into the wide, empty, dirt and gravel parking lot. A few of the migrants and I looked at each other, mumbling some concern that this would be the vehicle to take us all the way to DF, which is some 1,700 miles away, and, for a few of the migrants, all the way to Quintana Roo, another 600 miles. A rumor quickly circulated among those of us waiting that we would ride in this van to a full-sized bus, which was waiting for us downtown. In a few minutes, however, after some of the luggage was strapped to the roof, we were beckoned to present our thin paper tickets and enter. There were 17 of us, including two drivers. The bus had 15 seats, including a half-seat in the front, which straddled the radio and dashboard. One of the drivers unrolled a carpet scrap and one of the younger men volunteered to take the space on the floor, which, he was quick to recognize, would probably end up as the most comfortable and spacious seat in the van. I squeezed into the second to last row, in a window seat, and put my bag on my lap. It would sit there for the next 40 hours, though I didn’t know that at the time.

Your Flight Attendant Jokes Do Not Amuse JetBlue

The airline’s been objecting to cracks about Steven Slater’s infamous emergency chute escapade via its official Twitter account. Of course, this only inspires the tweeting jokers to new heights; here’s comedian Andy Borowitz’s response: “At @JetBlue you have to pay $5 extra for a sense of humor. Exact change, please.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times has unearthed the 1947 story of a Bronx bus driver who got fed up with his job—and took his rig on a 1,300-mile joy ride. That sounds even better than a trip down the inflatable slide, no?

Taking the Greyhound to America

Taking the Greyhound to America Photo by Sophia Dembling

Sophia Dembling mines the archive of the cross-country journeys that changed her life

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Interview with Seth Stevenson: ‘Grounded’

The author's new book chronicles his surface journey around the world. Frank Bures asks him about it -- and why he thinks air travel isn't really travel.

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World Travel Watch: No Alcohol in Brunei, Air Strikes in Europe and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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The Mad Matatus of Kenya

The Mad Matatus of Kenya Photo by Carl Hoffman

In an excerpt from "The Lunatic Express," Carl Hoffman spends a sweaty, noisy, desperate 24 hours in Nairobi

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Interview With Carl Hoffman: Riding ‘The Lunatic Express’

Jim Benning asks the author about the joys and challenges of traveling in steerage

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Greyhound Hits the Road in Britain

Greyhound Hits the Road in Britain Photo by EDgAr H. via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by EDgAr H. via Flickr (Creative Commons)

The iconic—or infamous?—U.S. bus company rolled out its first British service yesterday, and the Guardian went along for the inaugural ride. Writer Steven Morris, with visions of Route 66 and “gleaming metallic 1950s” style vehicles dancing in his head, was underwhelmed by the modern-day Greyhound reality. He writes: “The closest Peggy Sue—as this bus is rather jarringly called—got to swamps was a sewage works on the fringes of London. The Thames had to stand in for the Pacific Ocean. On a chilly morning, the desert seemed a very long way away.”

Hybrid Double-Decker Buses Debut in London

Hybrid Double-Decker Buses Debut in London Photo by Paleontour via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by Paleontour via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Six of them are now in use on Route 141. The city will assess just how much fuel and money it can save with the buses before expanding the fleet. (Via @joannakakissis, @ecogeek)

Which Budget Bus Line is the Best?

Which Budget Bus Line is the Best? Photo by Keyler Oliveira via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by Keyler Oliveira via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Slate’s Noreen Malone offers up this amusing “snob’s guide to bus travel”—in which she compares the Northeast’s various discount bus lines, applying “the supremely useful, difficult-to-master art of distinguishing among the baser things in life” for the task.

I haven’t tried out Fung Wah, but I’ve ridden all the other lines mentioned—Megabus, Bolt Bus and good old Greyhound—and I agree with her choices for best and worst: Quasi-hip, wired Bolt comes in tops, while Megabus (whose glowing green ceiling lights kept me awake for the bulk of a 10-hour overnight ride a couple weeks back—honestly, who doesn’t dim the lights on an overnighter?) often makes me wish I’d shelled out for the train.

Got a favorite discount bus line? Or any budget bus horror stories?

BusJunction: One More Reason to Take the Bus

BusJunction: One More Reason to Take the Bus Photo by Daquella manera via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by Daquella manera via Flickr (Creative Commons)

It’s been almost a year since I grudgingly acknowledged that, train delays and airport security being what they are these days, taking the bus might sometimes be the most convenient and comfortable way to go.

Since then—one gruesome incident notwithstanding—I’ve gone from a still-reluctant bus user to a full-on regular. And I’m not the only one: new bus lines have been popping up everywhere (and particularly here in the U.S. Northeast), and now there’s even a dedicated bus carrier search engine, BusJunction.com.

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An Invitation Aboard the Magic Bus

An Invitation Aboard the Magic Bus REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

In an excerpt from his new book on the hippie trail, Rory MacLean hops a ride in Afghanistan

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Morning Links: ‘Killer Blueline Buses,’ the Idea of America and More

nathan's hot dog Photo by hellochris, via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by hellochris, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

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Watching for the City Limits

New York City from above REUTERS/Jason Reed

The sight of the New York City skyline used to transfix Emma Jacobs -- until routine dulled her senses.

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Falling in Love with America

Growing up in New York City, I was deeply indoctrinated with the view of the world that Saul Steinberg summed up in his famous 1976 New Yorker magazine cover. As far as I was concerned, if you headed west, there was 10th Ave. and there was New Jersey (which you avoided as much as possible) and then there was a whole bunch of nothing worth mentioning until you hit the Pacific Ocean.

When I was 19 years old, I tagged along with a friend on a cross-country drive to deliver a baby-blue Plymouth Duster to her brother in Los Angeles. On that trip, I saw my first cornfields. My first hay rolls. I saw Chicago. The Great Salt Lake. (Yuck.) Cows. The Rockies. For real? I thought this stuff was just rumor and legend. We drove from New York to San Francisco and then down the jagged coastline to Los Angeles, where I dipped my toes in the Pacific Ocean and fell madly in love with America.

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Emergency Rations: Lessons From a 16-Hour Amtrak Ride

Emergency Rations: Lessons From a 16-Hour Amtrak Ride Photo by salimfadhley via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by salimfadhley via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I have this theory about successful budget transit: that the key to surviving a cross-country Greyhound ride, or a bargain-basement flight with three changes (all in small regional airports without so much as a Starbucks, naturally) is to never, ever be caught without a snack. After all, the only thing worse than being forced to buy, and eat, that simultaneously-stale-and-soggy packaged tuna sandwich at the truck stop is not having the option of eating anything at all. Right?

I first started packing what I think of as my “emergency rations” on a trip to India several years ago. The granola bars I’d stuffed into every corner of my backpack were handy on long train rides—and after I (inevitably) got sick, they became invaluable, my sole source of nutrition until I could stand to contemplate curry again. That success led to more advanced efforts: I can still remember the looks I got from other passengers when I boarded a Halifax-Montreal overnight train with an enormous Tupperware full of cold stir fry under my arm. But my habit of packing lunch didn’t evolve into a full-blown theory until one fateful Amtrak ride, from New York to Montreal, around this time last year.

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How Can I Save on Transportation During a Round-the-World Trip?

Vagabonding traveler Rolf Potts answers your questions about travel

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