Dallas Day Trip: Greyhound Express
Since the economic downturn of 2006 and the subsequent rise in fuel costs, people have increasingly ditched cars for alternate forms of transportation. Intercity bus services, offered by companies like Greyhound and Megabus, have benefited from increased ridership.
In 2010, Greyhound unveiled a new service called Greyhound Express that connects major cities through direct bus routes. Earlier this year, Greyhound Express came to Texas, offering non-stop routes between Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio with one-way fares as low as $1.
I thought it would be a good idea to ride the Greyhound Express before writing about it, so I booked my first ever Greyhound bus trip — an overnight swing to Austin and back on the Greyhound Express for just $2.
The idea of cheap alternative transportation between major Texas cities is appealing to me. Flying post 9/11 is a hassle. Driving is both boring and tiring. The train to Austin is extremely slow and inconvenient from Dallas. High-speed rail is a pipe dream.
Greyhound Express: Marketing vs Reality
Some claims made on the Greyhound website differ from what I experienced on my trip, leading me to believe that Greyhound Express service must vary slightly by region. The following are Greyhound Express benefits as advertised online:
- Reserved Seating
- Boarding Groups
- Free Wi-Fi
- Power Outlets
- Exta Legroom
- $1 fares
- Print at home tickets
Well, four out of six ain’t bad. Reserved seating seemed doubtful from the beginning, but print-at-home tickets would have been nice. Unfortunately, my only options for buying tickets were:
- Purchase online and pickup the tickets at the Greyhound Station, or
- Pick up the tickets at a 7-11 store for cash only
I did both. That is, I first purchased tickets online with credit card but worried about not being able to make it to the Greyhound Station with enough time to claim my tickets at will call and make my 7:46am departure, so I also bought tickets at 7-11 for cash. In total, round trip Greyhound Express tickets to Austin set me back $4 — $2 for the tickets I never picked up at will call and $2 for the 7-11 tickets I ultimately used.
Riding the Greyhound Express
Greyhound Express routes are supposed to feature buses redesigned with more legroom, free Wi-Fi, and power outlets. This was the case for both legs of my trip. Some buses feature leather seats with seat belts, but I didn’t encounter those.
Greyhound is notorious for overbooking their buses, and Greyhound Express routes are no different. A ticket booked through the Greyhound Express website, however, gets you priority boarding. Arrive at the terminal with time to spare, an you’ll make it on the bus.
The ride was very comfortable. Even with a full bus on the way to Austin, I felt like I had plenty of legroom. The seats were comfortable and the bus was well air conditioned. My bus trip from Austin to Dallas was especially relaxing because I had two seats to myself.
Power outlets were plentiful, and the Wi-Fi connection was adequate for browsing and checking email. Don’t expect to stream video though.
The bus bathroom, which I used on the way to Austin, could have been cleaner. Luckily, I brought my own hand sanitizer because the dispenser on the bathroom wall was empty.
Greyhound Express delivered on its most important promise: Dallas to Austin (and Austin to Dallas) with no stops and in just over three hours. It was nice for a change to arrive at a destinations relaxed and well rested.
I can definitely handle a 3-5 hour bus trip. Anything longer than that might be difficult.
Greyhound Express Daytripping
Maybe Houston and Austin fall outside the Dallas day trip zone; however, a day trip is certainly possible considering the frequency of Greyhound Express routes currently offered. Dallas to Austin is just over 3 hours, and Dallas to Houston is slightly more than 4 hours in most cases.
Because you are not dealing with the hassle and stress of driving, you can technically make it to Austin for a day at the Austin City Limits festival or to Houston to catch an Astros game with enough energy to enjoy yourself. The bus is for sleeping.
Overnight stays are preferable though, which is what I did for my Austin trip. A hotel room is easily justifiable when your round-trip transportation cost is $2.
Advice for Riding the Greyhound Express
Make sure you book early through the Greyhound Express website. It’s the only way to get the $1 fare, and I believe you have to book at least 21 days in advance. The next one-way fare up from $1 is still a reasonable $20 (web-only); anything higher than that makes driving seem more attractive in my opinion. Other tips for riding the Greyhound Express include the following:
- Arrive at the Greyhound terminal at least 30 minutes before departure (earlier if you are getting your tickets at will call) to give yourself enough time to take care of business and board the bus early
- You will most likely be solicited for money at the Greyhound terminals; determine in advance how you will handle this situation
- Bring a beverage and light snack with you
- Bring your own hand sanitizer
- Be respectful of others
- Bring a travel pillow if you want to sleep
- Have fun