American Bus Operators
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It is easy to get an impression that the U.S.A. is exclusively a fly/drive destination, but there are public transport services on offer. Since the information can be hard to find, I have decided to collect entries here for bus service operators in any part of the country that I get to investigate as a potential travel destination. Due to the continental scale of the place and how much there is to be found, there will be an element of inevitable selection bias in the list, but the intention is that it builds over time to become a reference that is not easy to find anywhere else.
Intercity services naturally will see inclusion, but other operations like shuttle service providers or local transit authorities are within scope too. While you can check what is on Transit.Wiki (which is excellent for Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming at the time of writing) and peruse a list of American bus operators on Wikipedia , I thought that I would add mine with some added commentary from my information gathering. The progress will be piecemeal since the effort is a big one, and I will prioritise those places that I am more likely to visit on a trip away from my home turf as well. Beginnings may be small, but it is intended that they will grow.
Serving destinations across Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York, this is one of several operators in the northeastern states. Boston’s Logan Station and South Station see regular services at up hourly frequencies while New York gets up to three arrivals and departures a day. Some of the services are compatible with commuting too.
A one-time part of Stagecoach is an independent entity even though it still offers Megabus services throughout the eastern states and the west coast of the U.S.A. There are a variety of local subsidiaries that also provide commuter and local services.
The fact their websites are cross-linked suggests that these are partner companies and Concord Coach Lines certainly does own Boston Express. It seems that routes from the three companies overlap each other’s areas with Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York seeing service. That means that it is sensible to compare the routes on each website to see what suits your travel needs. Most feature several departures a day and some journeys are not so long either. For example, those between Portland, Maine and Boston are around two hours in length, and it takes about six hours to get from Portland, Maine to New York with two departures a day.
This part of Arrow Stage Lines offers long-distance travel across Colorado, Montana, Nebraska and Wyoming. At the time of writing, four routes are being served: Norfolk to Omaha, Omaha to Denver, Denver to Buffalo via Casper and Cheyenne to Billings via Shoshoni. The last of these only offer two journeys in each direction a week, so you need to check your day of travel. Otherwise, there typically is one journey in each direction a day since the journey times are long.
The brand is an iconic one though the network is not as extensive as it once was, and it now is a subsidiary of FlixBus, which tried out the brand in the U.K. for a few years before abandoning the effort. Even so, the company’s long-distance services are worth checking when it comes to travelling between the major conurbations of the U.S.A. and even to some destinations in Canada or Mexico.
Scheduled shuttle services from fifteen U.S. airports to several nearby locations is essentially what is offered here though there are separate connections between Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon National Park too; Flagstaff is connected to Phoenix Airport, so travel can be organised from there to the Grand Canyon if you so desire it. The Arizona operation once had another identity as did the Oregon one. All services need pre-booking and the website allows you to do just that.
When you look at the overall route map for this long-distance bus operator, it covers a lot of flyover states in the middle of the U.S.A. The list includes Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. The network came to my notice when I was looking into transport options for Montana, especially near Glacier National Park, while writing up an article called Pondering Car-free Explorations of American Wilderness for my travel website. Then, another company had ceased to exist and this now century-old entity provided part of the route replacement.
Salt Lake City can be a good starting point for an exploration of Grand Teton National Park as this daily service proves. There are two round trips from Monday to Friday and a single one at weekends. Some of those departures are very early, but the lunchtime ones are better when they are offered. Other destinations in the Star Valley get served too, so the website timetable is worth examining.
This is a third-generation operation with scheduled services connecting numerous places in Washington D.C., New York, States, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts. There was a one-time alliance with Greyhound, but those days have passed, and the privately owned independent is free to service its spread of routes across the northeastern states.
As the name suggests, this company is based in Utah but its network also reaches Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. It was when checking out the last of these that the company came to my notice since it serves Great Falls and this is its northernmost terminus. Others might be interested to know that the company will get you to Jackson in Wyoming or Las Vegas just as well.
When Greyhound began to become pervasive, there was a feeling that they should not monopolise long-distance bus transport services so Trailways was established as a network involving different local operators such as Adirondack Trailways in New York state or Northwestern Trailways in Washington State and Idaho. While the prevalence of car and air travel has diminished the market, the network remains to a smaller extent than once was the case so the website facilitates bookings and tells you where you can go. Unlike Greyhound, there is no route map, so it may be a matter of trying the ticket search to see what you can get, and it is possible to charter buses for group travel as well.
California & Nevada
The fulcrum for this bus network may be Mammoth Lakes but links to Reno (which is a calling point for the California Zephyr train service between San Francisco and Emeryville, near San Francisco) and Lancaster along with other places makes it worth a look. Monday to Friday service operation is typical of their routes while some run on certain days of the week or month while one summer shuttle may operate on a seven-day schedule. With hiking possibilities offered by the surrounding Sierra Nevada and even desert areas like Death Valley and the Mojave Desert, the area certainly has its attractions and there is the unusually salty Mono Lake too.
Getting to and from Lake Tahoe is made easier by this scheduled pre-booked shuttle service connecting Reno-Tahoe International Airport with Truckee and places along the north and west of Lake Tahoe. Three are three different routes, each with round the clock coverage, and journey times are in the region of 60 to 90 minutes depending on traffic, departure points and destinations.
Both Reno and nearby Sparks are found in Washoe County, Nevado and this is the website of its Regional Transportation Commission’s Public Transport subsite. Carson City is further away on the eastern side of Lake Tahoe, but that gets included here too. Services are mainly daily but some are Monday to Friday in extent and that surprisingly applies to Reno’s airport as well. Still, some routes are operated around the clock every day of the week, so it just depends on where you want to go, and this website will tell you what you need to know.
They might splash resorts across parts of their website, but this is a scheduled airport shuttle service between many of them and Reno airport, and it is more convenient than other public transport options. It is possible to pre-book your journey and I suspect that is encouraged strongly, but there is an around the clock service with the added concept of checking in for it, an unusual idea for ground travel.
Lake Tahoe is shared between California and Nevada and there are concerns about its water quality, so there are various initiatives to curtail private transportation in the area. This organisation is part of that and the main reason for its inclusion here is that this is the place to find out about bus services serving places along the south and east of the lake. Some of these extend to nearby Carson in the state of Nevada as well as reaching into California too. Service frequencies typically are hourly from early morning until early evening and journeys are on offer daily too.
This bus network usefully serves numerous places around the western and northern shores of Lake Tahoe and links them with Truckee, which is a stop on Amtrak’s California Zephyr route. Truckee also gets its local services, so it is not all about Lake Tahoe, as attractive as the area is for hiking and other outdoor activities. Frequencies are often hourly and there are year-round services so a car-free holiday in this part of California looks very viable. What is even better is they promote such an approach through the Linking Tahoe website and that adds even more confidence for visitors.
Yosemite National Park gets a year-round public transport service because of this operation that connects the place with Merced, where connections with Amtrak train services and flights to Merced Airport are possible, so you should be able to manage a car-free visit from elsewhere. Seasonal services to Fresno, Mammoth Lakes and Sonora are also on offer with Fresno services offering Amtrak connections together with journeys to and from Fresno airport. The operating dates for seasonal services may change from year to year, so the website is worth checking before you make any plans. Generally, the Mammoth Lakes route is June to September only while the others operate during May as well.
The town of Estes Park bills itself as the base camp for the Rocky Mountain National Park and there is a free shuttle bus extending into the park from there during summer. Getting that far without a car is another matter so having scheduled shuttle services to and from Denver International Airport helps to make visits far more feasible. These get operated year-round with a more extensive timetable during the summer and work better than the approach from the Amtrak station at Granby, which only is possible during the summer road opening period.
Denver’s metropolitan transport network not operates bus services but also offers tram and train travel options as well. Some bus routes serve the park and ride facilities on the edge of the area while Boulder is very much part of the network. The mile-high city offers much for the outdoors enthusiast too, so it is good to see transport connections getting people close to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
The mainstay of this company’s operations is a seven-day out and back journey between Calais and Bangor (and its airport) that goes along the Maine coast. Other services are offered on certain days of the week or even on certain days of the month. These include single return journeys between Beals Island and Ellsworth, between Steuben and Machias and between Luben and Machias. There also are Monday to Friday services between Steuben and Jonesport along with a school service to complete the list.
This website is not as accessible as it might be since you cannot get it to load in some places, and it looks as if EEA countries are blocked because of the EU’s GDPR. That is why I am linking to the backup on the Wayback Machine above. What is most intriguing is a proposal for getting people to, from and around Glacier National Park ; if that happens, it could be a major advance for car-free travel to a very special place. For now, most of the bus routes serve Kalispell (Green & Red Lines , Orange Line ) alone while some commuter services link the place with Whitefish and Columbia Springs .
Klamath Falls is served by this operator with routes all around the city. None extend beyond it, but there is Monday to Saturday service provision that may get a traveller arriving at the city’s train station to their hotel for a night or more. Of course, it particularly will help locals to get about as well. Hourly route frequencies are common and buses run from early morning to early evening.
Two routes are on offer from this organisation and one of them is part of the NW Connector network. That is the Coast to Valley Express between Newport and Albany with other stops being at Toledo, Eddyville and Corvallis. Handily, there also is the possibility of connections with Amtrak train services at Albany and there are four journeys in each direction on days of operation. The second route is called the 99 Express, and it offers three journeys in each direction between Corvallis and Adair on its days of operation, which allows the possibility of connections with the Coast to Valley Express and other local services around Corvallis.
While there were rumours of its demise, this reservation-only shuttle operator connects Portland’s airport with a variety of locations every day of the week. Most of the destinations are coastal and each gains one return journey a day, but that should be enough if you slow things down and narrow your ambitions a little. Departures to the airport leave in the morning while return trips start in the early afternoon.
Aside from the wintertime only Mount Bachelor Shuttle , this operator runs year-round Monday to Saturday routes serving Bend, La Pine, Madras, Prineville, Redmond, Sisters and Warm Springs. Saturday’s frequencies typically consist of three journeys in each direction and there are more on weekdays. Other leisure services include the summer shuttle around Lava Butte and serving river activity participants, so the range of services gets a mix of users.
This agency serves Coos Bay, Coquille, Charleston, Myrtle Point and North Bend with a mix of interurban and urban services. Most are Monday to Friday operations, but there also is a Saturday service between Coos Bay and North Bend that has multiple journeys, unlike its weekday counterparts.
What interests me about this daily operation between Bend and Portland is that it calls at Government Camp near Mount Hood, thus adding possibilities for outdoor exploration around one of Oregon’s landmarks. There are one or two journeys in each direction per day with weekend and holiday services gaining the extra departures. If you are content to try your chances, you can travel on a walk-on basis, but it is much safer to book in advance and arrive at a stop at least ten minutes before scheduled departure times.
This network serves Salem and nearby Keizer with a mix of urban and interurban bus services that also link with those provided by other operators. Monday to Friday services operate from early morning until late at night while Saturday ones are not as extensive as this. Frequencies vary with some seeing only a few departures a day and others enjoying an hourly service.
The cities of Corvallis and Philomath are the places served by this operator and there are connections with other interurban services too. Some routes are served seven days a week and others are Monday to Saturday or Monday to Friday in scope. In addition, there are Thursday to Sunday night bus services during Oregon State University term time. Service frequencies typically are hourly and some run on a half-hourly basis.
Apart from a dial-a-ride service, the main reason to include this operator is its Monday to Saturday Coastal Express service. The extends north from Smith River in northern California to North Bend in Oregon so that the state’s lesser frequented southern Pacific coastline gets public transport connections. The timetable on the website looks odd at the time of writing, but there are between three and four journeys in each direction with some parts of the route doing better than others. Even so, the result is that it is possible to explore Brookings, Gold Beach, Port Orford and Coos Bay without a car. It also may be possible to organise a bespoke additional stop and one example would be North Bend Airport, but there can be others.
The Columbia Gorge near Portland in Oregon is such a major attraction for outdoors enthusiasts that there is added encouragement for the use of public transport. This can be seen from the Gorge Translink initiative (which also includes other operators like Sherman Transit ) of which Columbia Area Transit is part. After all, they run the seven-day Columbia Gorge Express between Portland and the Dalles as well as serving other Monday to Friday services around Hood River. In addition to those, there also is the seven-day Gorge to Mountain Express between Hood River and Mount Hood Meadows. As such, there is much to assist outdoors enthusiasts in going on car-free outings.
Although the operation is seasonal and visitor-focussed, the website does include some useful information about getting to this National Park in southern Oregon and that is enough for it to get added here. For car-free summertime visiting, it makes a good first port of call.
Operating services around the city of Eugene are the mainstay of this network, but there is one intriguing route that serves McKenzie Bridge within the Williamette National Forest. That offer involves four return journeys a day on weekdays and two return journeys a day at weekends. Other routes see far more frequent travel and some are interurban too.
Urban services are on offer around both Lincoln and nearby Newport with near hourly frequencies. The former of these is served Monday to Saturday and while the latter enjoys a seven-day service. In addition to these, a timetable for the Coast to Valley service between Lincoln and Albany’s Amtrak railway station is also to be found.
Baker County and Union County may have sections on this website, but it appears to be more useful for Wallowa County, especially during the summer months. It startles me a little to see a commuter bus route being served on a Monday to Thursday basis, butt there is one of those and others only operate on certain days of the week. In truth, the public transport in these parts is about as easy to navigate as the website offering route, timing and fare information.
There may be a link to an interurban route operated by Lane Transit District, but this company also runs two services of its own. The first goes between Redmond and Chemult (calling at Bend, Sunriver and La Pine) and is an Amtrak Thruway route while the second goes between Bend and Eugene. At the time of writing, the latter also continues to Coos Bay on the coast, but that is due to change and a stop in Sisters is to be introduced. There are two return journeys between Redmond and Chemult and a single return trip between Bend and Eugene (extending to Coos Bay at the time of writing).
It was while looking for Southwest Point or Northwest Point after seeing them mentioned in a guidebook that I came across this operation that serves various destinations across Oregon. There are four long-distance routes in total: Portland - Astoria, Portland - Eugene, Bend - Ontario and Klamath Falls - Brookings. The first two of these have journey times of around three hours and two or more departures a day. With one departure in each direction a day, the latter two east-west routes are longer with there even being a stopover of several hours on the journeys between Bend and Ontario. Even so, these remain useful ways to get around the state, so avoiding the need for any long-distance driving.
The acronym stands for Rogue Valley Transit District and this bus network spreads out from Medford to serve such places as Ashland and Jacksonville. All of their routes run from Monday to Friday and some operate on Saturdays too. Hourly service frequencies are common, so this bus network is a very useful alternative to car travel.
This is not the only scheduled shuttle operation connecting Bend with Portland and its airport, but it is the only one that also serves Sisters and Salem. There is one return journey every day and the website will announce any deviation from this. Sisters and Bend are adjacent to some spectacular countryside, so it helps that we also have this travel option without needing to resort to using a car.
Tram and commuter rail services may be offered by this organisation, but it is their bus network that earns them their place here. The whole network serves all of Portland as well as some nearby population centres like Oregon City. The latter is but one of the attractions of the area so a comprehensive public transport network also helps to get to the likes of Forest Park and other centres of outdoor activity.
The name may be generic, but this operator serves Grant County with routes linking Baker City, Bend, Burns, Canyon City, John Day, Monument, Prairie City, Redmond and Walla Walla. Services to and from all of these make the network an extensive one, but days with single return journeys are common and some even operate on certain days of the week or month. That makes planning a little more important and so is the checking of timetables even if the website feels less user-friendly than might be ideal.
Along with urban services around McMinnville and Newberg, there also are interurban routes between the former and places such as Grand Ronde, Hillsboro, Tigard and West Salem. Most operations are Monday to Friday only but the routes serving Grand Ronde and Tigard also run on Saturdays. There is a near hourly frequency on many services too and the one serving Grand Ronde gets you somewhere that has notable hiking country nearby.
This company came to my notice when pondering the possibility of visiting Grant Teton National Park. Its main area is the town of Jackson and the village of Teton. Though I have yet to see their summer timetables, I have seen it mentioned that there may be summer services into the National Park, which would be useful for those without a car. Otherwise, it seems a little strange to see no service to Jackson Hole airport but the number of connections between Teton and Jackson along with other places makes the network worth mentioning.