Reason Foundation

Reason Foundation

Comparing the Travel Times, Environmental Impacts and Costs of Traveling by Bus and Amtrak

Study finds travel times on motorcoaches and Amtrak are similar, but ticket costs and emissions are much lower with bus travel

July 30, 2013

This analysis prepared, by M.J. Bradley & Associates for Reason Foundation, Taxpayers for Common Sense and the American Bus Association, compares customer costs (fare, travel time) and societal costs (government subsidies, air emissions) associated with 20 specific trips that can currently be taken between select U.S. city pairs on both an Amtrak train and on a scheduled intercity motorcoach bus.

These specific trips were chosen to provide a representative comparison between these travel modes over a range of geographies, both urban and rural, and to include trips taken on the three major types of service operated by Amtrak (Northeast Corridor, including Acela; other short-corridor trains; and long-distance trains). The majority of these trips are between 100 and 200 miles one-way, while one is shorter and several are longer.

The key findings of this analysis are as follows:

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