Since the oil crisis in the 1970s, U.S. cities have shown a marked increase in the quality of public transit. Most medium- to large-sized cities have efficient, reliable bus fleets. In larger urban areas, many buses have reclining seats, air-conditioning, overhead reading lights, and even alternative energy power plants, including electric.
Generally, the fare system is an exact-change system, or will take a ticket pre-purchased, often at a discount. You pay as you board, usually by putting your cash or ticket into a metered box next to the driver. There are overhead lines or buttons for you to use to signal that you wish to get off at the next stop. Get a copy of the local bus line's timetable, and learn how to read it. U.S. bus systems are fairly punctual, but to a much lesser degree than European or Japanese bus systems. Every bus operation has a passenger assistance telephone number you can call for further information. Foreign language skills are not to be found among most bus drivers in the U.S., so having a destination or question written down is often a good idea.
Intercity: There are over 11,000 long-distance coach lines in the U.S., crisscrossing the country with economically priced and dependable services. Toilets, airliner-type seats, and air-conditioning are standard on intercity routes.
Once you can pinpoint your destinations in the U.S., then a travel agent can put you in touch with the appropriate long-distance bus company. Greyhound is the dominant national coach carrier covering the states of the South, South Central, South Rockies, and Southwest, and extending into Canada and Mexico. If you find yourself suddenly in need of bus transit, the fastest way to find a company is to call Greyhound; they will tell you if they service the area in question, and who else does along with them, or instead of them.
Most sizable companies such as Greyhound have terminals with facilities to store luggage temporarily. You are not permitted to sleep in most bus stations, such as you might in a train station, between connections. Note: Keep in mind that Greyhound or other long-distance bus stations are not usually located in the best areas of major cities. Rather, some are quite questionable in nature with odd characters and street urchins lurking about. Proceed directly to a cab or have a destination in mind when you disembark.
The larger coach companies offer discount fares, such as Greyhound's Ameripass, which entitles the traveler to 7, 15, 30, or 60 days of unlimited travel throughout the U.S., with daily extensions available. The Ameripass must be purchased outside the U.S., and may be obtained from Greyhound World Travel.