Buses, Trains and Taxis in the US



In this section we discuss about the local (ground) public transportation in the US. Three most common local public transportation in the US are bus, train, and taxi. Since you are a student, you most likely will try to safe money on transportation. Therefore, travelling by taxi might not be a good option for you. Travelling by bus or train, on the other hand, might be a good option, especially if your travel destination is not too far and you don't have or don't want to drive a car.
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Just like anywhere else in the world, you will find two types of buses / trains in the US: the city bus / train and
the intercity / interstate bus / train. Below we provide more detailed informations on each type.

City Bus / Train

The city bus / train usually provide transportations between suburb and downton, within downtown, and from / to important facilities in the city, such as library, hospital, court, mall, etc. In some major city, such as New York, you will find that the city train runs underground. This type of train is called a Subway.

You can find more information about city bus / train by going to their websites. If you don't know the name of the bus / train that runs in your city, simply go on-line into the search engine, and type your city name followed by "bus" or "train". Most likely you will get the website that you need in the first page of search results. The other way to find more information about city bus / train is by asking your campus information center.

In a particular city bus / train's website, you can find usefull information, such as the bus / train schedule, the location of the bus stop / train station, the fare, whether or not they provides student dicount, where you can purchase the ticket, etc.

Usually you will have many options in buying the ticket. You can buy a 1-ride ticket, 5-rides ticket, 1-day pass, weekly pass, monthly pass, and some other options. You can choose the type of tickets depending on your need. For instance, if you stay within a walking distance form campus, you might not need a monthly pass, you can just buy the 1-day pass or 5-rides ticket to go to grocery store, public library, or mall.

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How is the city bus / train service in the US?

Most of the times, the frequency of the bus/train will be high in the morning and evening rush hours. At other times, you might find yourself spending more time waiting for the bus / train. One important point to remember is that most of the buses and trains in the US are very punctual, so be on time at the bus stop / train station, otherwise you will have to wait for the next one and spend more time.

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Intercity / Interstate Bus / Train

The intercity / interstate bus / train connects cities within a state or cities among states. This type of bus / train does not stop as often as city bus. They only stop in the main bus stop or main train station. Mostly they only have one or two stop in one particular town / city. Currently, the largest inter-city bus in the US is Greyhound Bus Lines, another big inter-city bus is Trailways Transportation System. As for the train, the current largest inter-city train in the US is Amtrak, which is partly owned by the US government.

You can find more information about these bus / train companies by visiting their websites. As in the case of city bus, here you can also find the information about the bus / train schedule, the location of the bus stop / train station, the fare, where you can purchase the ticket, etc.

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Where can I buy tickets for the bus / train?

You can buy the bus/train tickets in the bus / train station or you can go on-line and buy the ticket from the company's website. Buying bus / train ticket on-line is more common for intercity / interstate ticket. It is more convenient, but it will cost you a certain ammount of transaction fee. If you want to avoid the transaction fee, you should go to the nearest bus / train station and buy the ticket there.

If you want to buy city bus / train ticket, usually you can also buy it in your campus (book store, student center, or business office) or some grocery stores that are authorized to sell the tickets.

If you purchase the ticket online, don't forget to print out the receipt and any confirmation number you recieve. Before your departure, you will have to show your confirmation number to get the actual ticket.

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How much luggage can I carry while travelling?

When you travel by bus / train, the luggage that you can bring with you is more flexible than that if you travel by airplane. However, you should check with the bus / train company if you plan to bring a "more than average" luggages.

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Tips for travelling with city bus / train

  • Check with your campus information center if your campus has a collaboration with the local bus / train company to give out student discounts. If so, you will be able to safe a lot of money on transportation

  • If you don't have a ticket ready, you can still ride a bus and pay by cash to the bus driver. However, usually you have to pay the exact amount of the fare without any change. The bus driver does not carry change for you, and won't be able to give you change. Therefore, if this is the case, be sure to have small changes to pay for your bus.

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Tips for travelling with intercity / interstate bus / train

  • Reserve the ticket early, i.e., 3 to 4 weeks in advance. Usually there is a discount that you can get if you reserve the ticket early. Plus, this will ensure that you get the ticket for your intended travel date

  • On your departure date, be on time, at least half an hour early at the station. Usually the bus / train ticket does not have seat number, so if you have a special seat preference, you might want to come early to the station

  • If you have purchased the ticket online, don't forget to bring the print out of the receipt and any confirmation number that you recieved at the time of purchase. You will have to show this number to the agent at the station to get the actual ticket / boarding pass.

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