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US bus travel cool again



20 March 2012 – Rising petrol prices and a new breed of British-owned discount operators, based in the densely populated US north-east corridor, have made the coach a viable alternative to the car, plane or train for a growing number of travellers.

According to the authors of a report by DePaul University's Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development, Megabus and BoltBus could even make bus travel "cool".

The two British-owned companies, which went head-to-head on key US routes for the first time in 2008, increased their number of trips by 32% last year and are adding new routes all the time.

The key to their success is offering tickets between major cities such as New York and Philadelphia, or Boston and Washington, for as little as $1 (, with typical one-way fares between $15 and $27.

But the fact that they offer free wi-fi and pick up passengers on the kerbside - rather than bus terminals which are seen as intimidating - is also a factor, helping to make them popular with more affluent passengers and women travelling alone, according to the DePaul research.

The companies also stress the green credentials of buses, which offer better carbon dioxide emissions than air or car travel.

Inter-city kerbside bus departures have increased from 589 to 778 a day over the past year, while scheduled departures for the industry as a whole, including Greyhound, increased by 7.1% to 2,693.

More on BBC.co.uk/news/magazine

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