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Bus Tickets > Chinatown Bus > Media Coverage > The cheap bus movement -- formerly, the "Chinatown bus" movement -- is spreading rapidly-- Frommer's
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The cheap bus movement -- formerly, the "Chinatown bus" movement -- is spreading rapidly-- Frommer's
2008-02-28
by Arthur Frommer

They started up about seven years ago as "Chinatown buses" operated by various Chinese-American entrepreneurs from addresses in New York's Chinatown to various other street addresses (never an actual terminal) in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Boston. For about $15 each way, you booked passage on a shabby but workable bus, and saved a ton of money.

Then, in a little-noticed trend, other non-Chinese entrepreneurs bought their own buses and began operating along the Boston-New York-Philadelphia-Washington, D.C. circuit, at comparable bargain rates of $20 one-way to Washington, D.C., $35 round-trip. (See my recent post about the DC2NY bus line).

Then the British entered the act, starting Megabus (again discussed in a recent post) to service cities in the mid-west, especially Chicago, for as little as $1 per ticket (a loss-leader applicable to several seats per bus), for an average of $15-or-so per trip. Recently, Megabus has been traveling routes back and forth from Los Angeles and up and down the California coast -- at a big price advantage over Greyhound.

And now, in the latest development (which began in January of 2007), a website called GotoBus.com (www.gotobus.com) has started to publicize a whole host of non-Chinese, but Chinatown-like, buses that take you everywhere up and down the entire east coast of the United States (especially to and within Florida), and also from the northeast to Chicago, along the entire west coast other than in Oregon, and to still other miscellaneous destinations. You'll learn all about their schedules and rock-bottom rates by going to GotoBus.com, but you won't always learn the name of the busline. Though occasionally one is actually listed (like AllStates Buses), often they remain anonymous until you actually book.

Sample prices? They're breathtaking. New York to Chicago,$70 one-way, $120 roundtrip. Orlando to Miami, $20 one-way, $40 round-trip. Seattle to Vancouver, $33 one-way, $59 round-trip. Los Angeles to Phoenix, $40 one-way, $75 round-trip. New York to Albany, $25 one-way, $45 round-trip. Cry your heart out, Greyhound!

GotoBus.com takes reservations for over 100 bus lines, and though I'm not commenting on the quality of their vehicles or drivers, I am saying that a competitive marketplace has now created a new, money-saving travel facility for Americans.