How to Find Cheap Bus Tickets

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In a previous post about cheap bus tickets we recommended a New York Times article by The Frugal Traveler in which he explained how to get cheap bus fare between Boston, NYC, Philadelphia and Washington DC. As the cost and hassles of air travel are escalating we decided to revisit the topic and help you find a cheap bus fare to your destination.

Major carriers typically offer discounts simply by booking ahead. Go directly to Greyhound, for example, for 10% off tickets purchased a week in advance, and 25% off purchases made two weeks ahead. If you're traveling with friends or family you can get up to 50% off tickets for your companion purchased at least three days in advance. Greyhound also offers web only cheap bus fares. It might be worthwhile to search for the bus company name or route with keywords like "coupons", "discounts" etc. to learn about the deals and reduced prices.

If these price cuts aren't steep enough for your liking, there's always the route that runs through discount bus companies straight to a dirt cheap bus fare. Megabus is a budget carrier that offers some of the cheapest bus fares around -- trips between major cities, such as New York and Boston, average about $11. MegaBus is rapidly expanding and now also offers services to Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Toronto, Buffalo, Minneapolis, Memphis and other cities. The buses feature free Wi-Fi and reclining seats, and you can stow one regular suitcase aboard. Some users posting on Yelp complain that Wi-Fi doesn't always work, but given that the loss of such perks doesn't interfere with your arrival at the appointed destination, the cheap bus fare is still worth every penny.

BoltBus runs buses with amenities similar to what you find on Megabus and charges less than $20 on fares between major cities; a one-way ticket from Newark Penn Station to Washington, D.C. Union Station, for example, costs $17. For an amazingly cheap bus fare, check out the $1 tickets from Bolt and Megabus if you reserve a spot way early. WorldWideBus and Tripper Bus often offer $1 fares, as well. California Shuttle Bus offers low bus fares if you are looking to travel between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area

Then there are the Chinatown buses which operate between Chinatown sections of major cities -- a ride between Philadelphia's and New York's Chinatowns costs just $15. We've seen comments from passengers who have questioned the safety of these buses and driving skills of the drivers, but this line remains a low-cost option for inter-city travel. Fungwah Bus, Lucky Tours, Travel Pack USA and Sunshine Boston serve similar destinations and offer cheap bus fares.

Sometimes you have no choice but to fly to wherever you need to go. How do you get into the heart of the city without further straining your budget? In some cities there's a bus that operates between the airport and downtown. If you're transiting between Manhattan and Newark Airport, for example, CoachUSA offers $15 one-way tickets for adults while a taxi or a car service will cost you over $50-$70 with toll and tips. Airport websites typically provide information about, and links to, ground transportation options.

There are additional resources to help you search for a cheap bus fare. If you're looking to find which bus companies serve your destination, check out The American Bus Association. Just enter your State or Zip code and a list of service providers will come up including their US Department of Transportation IDs and links to their safety rating and insurance verification. GotoBus is a good spot for snagging the cheapest bus fares, with deals like buy-one-get-one-free and round trip tickets between NYC and Boston for $15 and NYC and Philly for $10.

Remember, too, that students, military members and their relatives, veterans, and seniors usually get discounted or concession fares ranging from 5% to 40% off. Students will need to flash a student ID, but discount cards are also available from sites such as Student Advantage, which saves students 15% off Greyhound fares, and the International Student Exchange Card.

Now get on that bus and get going.