The main differences between Amtrak and Greyhound are their services, facilities, comfort, and security. They also differ in route variety and pricing. Let’s dig deeper to fully understand.
So, you’re planning a trip. There’s so much to think about and consider! One of the most debated topics when it comes to traveling is: bus or train?
So, what are the differences between Amtrak and Greyhound?
Top 9 Differences Between Amtrack and Greyhound
As the famous saying goes “apples and oranges!”. These two companies share the same goal. To get you from point A to B.
However, these two forms of transportation couldn’t more different. Amtrak is for train travel, while Greyhound is for bus travel.
Now, which is the better travel option? You be the judge. Let’s go through the important aspects of travel in both companies.
1. Company Profiles and Main Sevices
Amtrak and Greyhound. These are the two most well-known transportation companies in the United States. Obviously, the two cater to distinct needs. Train and bus travel. However, they have proved respective prominence in the transportation sector and in history.
So, drawing parallels between the two is not unreasonable.
The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, or Amtrak for short, is a government-owned organization. In fact, the President appoints the majority of Amtrak’s board of directors.
The U.S. Senate must also approve each appointment and Amtrak now employs around 19,000 people.
Moreover, Amtrak connects several U.S. cities by passenger rail. It commenced its services in May 1971. And finally, their headquarters are at Washington’s Union Station.
On the other hand, Dallas-based corporation Greyhound Lines, Inc. operates bus services. The company services more than 3,000 locations throughout the USA.
Greyhound also covers some parts of Canada and Mexico. It first opened its doors for service in 1914. Greyhound is managed and controlled as a distinct entity of FirstGroup America. They are a branch of the Scottish firm FirstGroup.
Amtrak is essentially not obligated to conduct nationwide services. However, they continue to serve the majority of the states.
They also run an overhead wire system in these specific areas:
- Washington, D.C.
The remaining states are supplied by diesel-powered locomotives. Additionally, Amtrak runs Thruway Motorcoach. This offers bus routes in and out of their railway terminals.
Meanwhile, Greyhound provides other services along with their major routes. This covers bus transportation from New York City at a discount. Additionally, they serve other locations in the northeastern areas.
There are several supplemental considerations when you compare the two. For instance, you’d surely want the most cost-effective route. You also want the schedule to match your wanted departure.
So below, we go through the important deciding factors one by one.
Let’s start with a comparison of Amtrak and Greyhound in terms of cost. It’s a common misconception that Amtrak is always more pricey.
But, this is not completely true. In fact, coach fares are pretty similar for destinations near Amtrak stations.
Plus, Amtrak prices usually (and naturally) increase due to their room categories. Yet, Greyhound buses do not provide such nice seating/room options.
Here are some side-by-side comparisons for one-way trips:
|One Way Trip Route
|Seattle to Portland
|Chicago to San Francisco
|Philadelphia to Charlotte
These famous routes have comparable prices to each other. But, let’s say that there is no nearby Amtrak terminal in the area.
Now things begin to take an intriguing turn.
In this case, it’s likely that Amtrak does not operate at the destination you’re traveling to. Unfortunately, you have to make other travel plans when this happens.
At this point, your only Amtrak option is to take the Amtrak Thruway. However, this comes at a higher cost.
Let’s compare the Amtrak Thruway costs to see how it stacks up with Greyhound.
|One Way Trip Route
|Portland to Las Vegas
|Boise to Seattle
Amtrak is incredibly more expensive than Greyhound when they don’t have stations near your destinations.
So, in these cases, Greyhound is cheaper than Amtrak.
Yet there are other factors to consider than cost. Some individuals are willing to shell out a few dollars for experience and comfort.
As we said, some people are just willing to pay more for comfort. This is especially true for long trips.
Let’s get into the specifics and find out more.
What’s the difference between Amtrak and Greyhound in terms of comfort?
Here are some of the drawbacks that may affect your level of comfort on a Greyhound trip.
First off, you’ll spend hours on a bus, typically alongside a random person. Greyhound does not allow reserved seatings.
So, if you want a good spot, arrive early.
Bus seats are generally more compressed than train seats. Therefore, legroom is relatively limited. Your only leg stretch opportunity is your trip to the bathroom.
Food is also not provided on Greyhound buses. However, you can buy some before your trip at the stops.
But, of course, there are also many advantages to Greyhound buses we want to highlight. Starting with their reclining, comfortable leather chairs.
Each seat also has a power outlet. So, say goodbye to bringing out your power bank! On top of this, they have free wifi. So, surf and watch away until you get to your destination.
They may not offer food on the train. However, they allow you to eat inside it. Plus, a lot of Greyhound terminals have great food choices nearby.
And you don’t need to fret about being stuck in the awkward middle seat. Greyhound buses don’t have any.
Additionally, Greyhound buses have a pretty large amount of overhead room. And don’t worry, they have bathrooms too!
Ultimately, these are generally sufficient and reasonable for short trips. Some factors may be uncomfortable during long rides, though.
Comfort is a priority on every Amtrak trip. Do they live up to their claims? Let’s find out.
Firstly, every seat on every Amtrak reclines, no matter the fare. And if you buy a ticket in advance, you get to choose your seat. And like Greyhound, they also have individual power outlets for every seat.
Additionally, all riders are entitled to free wifi. There are many comments and forums online commending them for their fast internet, too.
There are three daily meal service options and a variety of drinks available in the dining car.
Amtrak also offers fares with private rooms. So, you have some options for traveling in peace and quiet. Quiet cars are also available for those who like to travel in solitude.
The vista from the observation car’s ceiling-to-floor windows is spectacular as well.
With that in mind, let’s examine the various seating arrangements available for Amtrak and Greyhound.
Here’s where it gets tricky. We can only go as near as Amtrak coach against Greyhound’s regular seats. That’s pretty much the only direct comparison we can make. And Amtrak offers a variety of seating fares.
Regardless, we’ll still provide information about them, this way, you can decide if they’re worthwhile.
Greyhound bus seats are relatively comfortable. And as mentioned above, they’re reclinable too. It’s the most level of comfort you can get when it comes to bus seats.
But unfortunately, you cannot reserve or allocate a seat. Therefore, you have to get there early to get yourself a good spot.
However, if you upgrade your ticket, you can board earlier than other passengers.
The seats on Amtrak trains are comfortable, reclinable, and reservable. You get to pick a seat upon purchasing a ticket.
Amtrak’s coach trains typically feature 72 to 80 chairs. This is much more compared to a bus. Regardless, there is still adequate room to spread out.
Amtrak does offer classes other than Coach, though. Also, a little extra money can get you additional space and amenities
Want more comfort but don’t want to splurge on a private room? That’s what business class is for. But, is the upgrade really worth it?
Amtrak’s business class provides its passengers with greater legroom. Moreover, passengers get free non-alcoholic drinks and cheaper lounge passes.
All of this takes place in a separate car at the very back, therefore, there is less foot traffic.
Now, the question stands, how much does it cost? In most cases, expect to pay $30-$100 more for business class.
These aren’t the best of the best (and the highest prices) yet. Let’s check out Amtrak’s private rooms.
This is where a higher level of luxury and comfort come into play. Private rooms equal peace and quiet.
You have your own room, plus plenty of additional amenities, which includes:
- Two-bed convertible reclining seats
- Fold-down top bunk
- Your own personal room service
- Clothing hangers
- Free water
Private suites feature even larger windows overlooking the scenery. In addition, you get your own bathroom.
As you’d expect, the prices are crazy. Private rooms on longer journeys could cost you thousands. But, if you’re willing to shell out on it, no one’s stopping you.
5. Variety and Availability
Here’s where Greyhound really takes the cake. There are more than 200 stations with nearly 3,000 destinations on Greyhound.
This matrix of locations allows for greater versatility in travel arrangements. Amtrak, in contrast, has just 500 destinations offered.
Greyhound really shines in this category to the utmost.
6. Schedules and Frequency
Departure frequency is another factor to consider. You surely want something to match your plans and spontaneous trips.
Moreover, departure frequency also serves as a gauge for a route’s sustainability.
Sadly, according to our analysis, frequency is a bit hit or miss. It’s something we can say for sure. They are superior or inferior to one another based on the area. There’s also the question of how long it takes to get there.
7. Amtrak vs. Greyhound: Who Has More Delays?
Oh, the pains of travel. As much as it sucks, delays are really part of the experience. We just need to accept it.
Let me just be upfront and say that there are major delays on both ends. However, their causes vary and are different.
Highway problems are the most common reason for Greyhound’s delays. This includes accidents, heavy traffic, and ongoing constriction. Mechanical issues and routine bus maintenance account for a smaller percentage of delays.
Greyhound bus delays are ultimately common. So, expect it to happen once you travel. Therefore, you should also expect an overall longer travel time.
To be safe, I recommend giving yourself an extra day or two before any commitments. Definitely don’t plan a cross-country journey to get in only a few hours prior.
So, passenger trains need to give way to them. There will be a greater delay to your schedule if a lot of freight trains use a certain corridor.
So, again, build in extra time in case of delays.
Traveling with Amtrak is typically considered risk-free. The public, however, often has a different impression of Greyhound.
However, this is usually unjustified or is it?
9. Website Navigation
We all live in a technology-pronounced era. So, website and technological conveniences are also a factor.
There are a lot of buttons and forms on every page of the Amtrak site. The website may seem daunting at first, but it is easily navigable if you know where to go.
The site is useful for researching travel alternatives and investigating train timetables and rates. Overall, it’s pretty user-friendly.
Greyhound’s website may be quite difficult to use. There’s a ton of content on each page. It’s hard to navigate upon first use. But, you can get a hang of it after a while.
Difference Between Amtrak and Greyhound: Our Final Thoughts
As you can probably now tell, both are very different in all aspects.
If you were to ask us which is better, we’d say it depends on your travel purposes. Everyone has their own preferred way of traveling.
To conclude, though, Greyhound offers affordable and more options. So, if your goal is cost-effective travel, then this is for you.
On the other hand, Amtrak is more expensive because of its facilities. So, it’s a great way to have an overall relaxing, well-deserved trip, with great viewing!
Regardless, we wish you a safe and enjoyable journey!